"PONYO, PONYO, FISHIE IN THE SEA!" @ 12 March 2010 09:36 PM
Be warned, the theme song of this fanciful epic by the renowned Hayao Miyazaki, who won an Best Animated Film Oscar for Spirited Away (reportedly, even the directors of Lilo and Stitch voted for that film even though their film was in the same competition.



Ponyo, a.k.a. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is perhaps the most innocent and wondrous of Miyazaki's films. It's said to be loosely based on The Little Mermaid (even the DVD package suggest this) but it really only bears a passing resemblance to either the Andersen or Disney versions. Like other Miyazaki films, it tells its own story by its own rules and requires that you allow yourself "into" an almost alternate universe that coexists with a realistic world. Sorry to be so pithy, but it's hard to describe these films adequately. They need to be experienced.

Big name stars perform the dubbed English version and most of them agreed because of their love for the director's previous work.

Among these is Liam Neeson, who appears on camera on one of the bonus features on the two disc set. Tina Fey says she was channeling the movie moms she grew up with. We see the cherished Betty White in recording sessions (she plays one of three ladies in a nursing facility, the other two voiced by Lily Tomlin and Cloris Leachman). Especially remarkable are the performances of young Noah Cyrus (Miley's sister) and Frankie Jonas (the Jonas Brothers' little brother) as the two leads. It's difficult enough to match the voices in an overdubbed foreign language film, it's quite another to add emotion and depth.

My children loved this film. It was their first introduction to Miyazaki, which can be an acquired taste for some. If you enjoy and admire the work of Pixar, you can't deny the extreme (and eagerly credited) influence of Miyazaki on Pixar character development and storytelling in particular.

The two DVD discs also include a storyboarded version of the film and lots of short features about the music, voices, characters and setting of Ponyo.

My only question -- where was the U.S released soundtrack album, including the Cyrus/Jonas version of the song?

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