LAT REVIEW: If you see ‘Ponyo’ once, you’ll want to watch it twice

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Kenny Turan, the lead film critic of the Los Angeles Times, was swept away by ‘Ponyo,’ which is lighting it up with critics everywhere. Here’s a bit of Turan’s review:

You’ll be planning to see ‘Ponyo’ twice before you’ve finished seeing it once. Five minutes into this magical film you’ll be making lists of the individuals of every age you can expose to the very special mixture of fantasy and folklore, adventure and affection, that make up the enchanted vision of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

The great genius of contemporary animation, who won the 2002 Oscar for best animated feature (for ‘Spirited Away,’ which also took the Golden Bear at Berlin), Miyazaki is more than revered in the international animation community.


But though he got a rare standing ovation at the recent Comic-Con International, Miyazaki’s work has never made the kind of impact in the mainstream American market it deserves. Plans, however, are afoot to change all that with this remarkable story of a goldfish who wants ever so desperately to be a little girl.

‘Ponyo’ is a sweet-natured film that emphasizes the joys of childhood friendships, but though it has a lot in common with Miyazaki’s gentle classic ‘My Neighbor Totoro,’ it still manages to be exciting when it needs to, and it’s been given first-class treatment by distributor Walt Disney Studios.

John Lasseter, Pixar and Disney’s reigning guru and a longtime Miyazaki admirer, has brought on ‘E.T.’ screenwriter Melissa Mathison to do the film’s English-language adaptation, and hired such top-quality voice talent as Liam Neeson, Tina Fey and Cate Blanchett to bring to life for domestic audiences a story that echoes Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Little Mermaid.’

Underlying everything, the constant that unites all of the director’s 10 features, is Miyazaki’s exceptional filmmaking imagination, his ability to bring us into other worlds, to stretch our minds without seeming to break a sweat in the process...


-- Kenneth Turan


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‘Ponyo’ producers and their plan to win over America

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ELSEWHERE: Studio Ghibli’s official website

CREDIT: ‘Ponyo’ image -- Disney/Studio Ghibli. Hayao Miyazaki photo by Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times.