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August 08, 2009


Ponyo-poster Anime maestro Hayao Miyazaki, best known in America for his 2001 film "Spirited Away," stays true to his common themes of nature, elderly people, and polite children with an American-dubbed version of his Japanese mini epic "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea." Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid," this beautifully animated film is set in a small Japanese seaside village where five-year-old Sosuke (voiced by Frankie Jonas) lives with his mother Lisa (voiced by Tina Fey) in a modest cliff-top house. Sosuke is thrilled when he discovers a goldfish trapped in a glass jar in the surf near his house. He names the unusual fish with a human face Ponyo (voiced by Noah Cyrus). Little does Sosuke realize that he holds the ability to transform the fish he adores into a little girl his own age, or that such a transformation could threaten the delicate balance of the global ecosystem. Ponyo's seafaring father Fujimoto (voiced by Liam Neeson) is a kooky individual with a wild shock of long orange hair married to Ponyo's mother Granmamare (voiced by Cate Blanchett), a divine goddess of the sea.


"Ponyo" is an entertaining fantasy movie for kids in which painstaking attention is given to balancing physical reality with magical fantasy. Already a hit in Japan, it's an instant classic of children's animation.

Rated G. 101 mins. (B+) (Four Stars)

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