(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Ponyo)
Doug (vo): It's almost kind of pointless to talk about Ponyo, seeing how I've done a whole entire Nostalgia Critic review dedicated to it. But let's take a quick look anyway, because, this time, we won't have any jokes or anything. Just a straightforward honest opinion.
Doug (vo): The film is very loosely based on The Little Mermaid, and when I say very loosely, I mean, there's practically no reason to connect it to The Little Mermaid. It's a female half-human, half-fish that comes out of the water, befriends a male, and that's about it. Everything else is completely 100% different. It has less to do with The Little Mermaid than, well, The Little Mermaid. Ponyo is an enchanted fish, who comes from a magical man named Fujimoto, played by Liam Neeson. One day, she decides to go exploring and comes across a boy playing in the sea. As she becomes more and more human, the boy and her start to form a very strong relationship. The longer she stays human and out of the sea, the more it seems to throw the world out of whack. And I mean, really out of whack: towns are suddenly put under water, the moon is about to crash into the Earth, it suddenly gets totally insane! But you almost wouldn't notice it, seeing how totally calm and relaxed everybody seems to be. "Yeah, so their houses are underwater. Big deal. You know what? It's a good day for a picnic, let's row our boats, go fishing, just totally have fun on this otherwise beautiful day." Yeah, it's that kind of movie. Can Ponyo get back in time in order to set everything right?
Doug (vo): Well, again, being that kind of movie, you can probably guess what the outcome's gonna be: weird. And that's definitely a word to describe this movie: weird. It's still charming and really likeable, but it...is...weird. The funny thing about it is that, even though there is a lot of surreal imagery, that's not what's so strange about it. The strangeness really does just lie in the story. You couldn't predict the reactions or the choices that these characters make, or the outcomes that they produce. On the one hand, it's just so strange to get a grasp on. I mean, it seems like this is a tiny little story about a girl befriending a boy, and also, it's a little magic. But then, he talks about the moon is gonna destroy the world and it's like...w-where did this come from? But on the other hand, that's also what's kind of charmingly strange about it. It's basically in its own strange setup, where even if the world seems to be under water, it's kind of okay. Something about that optimism is very bizarrely likable. Unexplainable, to say the least, but still likable. And I think a lot of that just comes from its simplicity. All this chaos is constantly going around these characters and yet, the biggest concern for our main lead is to get ham. Yeah, she discovers what ham is and is totally obsessed with it. How can you not like a film so weird? Even the art style seems a lot simpler compared to other Miyazaki movies. But I don't mean that in any way to insult it, I think that's just the style. It's drawn much more like a kids' book and it's kind of told in that way, too. Well, for the most part. Again, the complications of the plot are really, I don't know, I don't wanna say lazy, but not really needed. But then again, maybe that's the point of it. Maybe it is meant to just exist in this world where this extreme simplicity and this extreme complicated, batshit insane plot can exist together and just sort of create its own weird set-up. I don't know if that necessarily makes a classic, but it definitely makes an interesting experience. And at the heart of it is still some likeable characters, some enjoyable animation, and a whole lot of charm. I really like watching this kid and just how ambitious and excited she is. The tiniest things just get her going nuts and, yeah, her happiness is kind of contagious.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): So, does the film make a lot of sense? No. But is it meant to? Probably not. The two words I constantly hear from people in describing it is: weird, but cute. And I think that's sort of the reaction I get out out of it, too. It's crazy, but it's adorable. It's all over the place, but it's a lot of fun, too. I definitely wouldn't put it up there with Kiki or Spirited Away, but it's definitely a movie that's likable enough to put on a few times. Take a look and experience the madness for yourself.
(The film's ending plays out)