Wow, what a great movie. I’d gone in expecting another Spirited Away, which I found gorgeous but rambling and portentous and adult, but Ponyo is a true kids’ movie. That’s not to say I didn’t have a fine time playing spot-the-allusion–forget “The Little Mermaid,” Ponyo has The Magic Flute all over it–but the heroes seem like true five-year-olds. I also loved the way the human boy, Sosuke, interacted with his mother Liz Lemon–needing her, disregarding her, helping her–and always from the point of view of a kid, not from an adult’s idea of how a kid should view things. It’s great, too, in a world of airbrushed Pixar animation, to see moving pictures again–when was the last time a cartoon showed what looked like a hand-drawn line? And, best of all, I never once heard a joke or saw a scene that seemed intended as a sop or wink to the adults in the audience, something even the best Pixar movies do regularly. I love the fact that even nine-year-olds might feel too old for this film.
I think Sendak would adore this movie–it was preceded by a preview of Where the Wild Things Are and, truth be told, I felt a little worried by the wooden dialogue. But let’s wait for the whole thing.