(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing posters of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Dark Knight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Alice in Wonderland, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Star Trek Into Darkness, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Hunger Games, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Smurfs, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and Sherlock Holmes)
Doug (vo): It's no secret that Hollywood has been out of original ideas for a while. Everything is either based on a comic or a book or a popular series or a TV show. Everything is retro and based off of something. And while a lot of good stuff has come from it, it is kind of a shame that we don't really see that much new stuff coming out.
[Clips from Spirited Away are shown]
Doug (vo): But then, every once in a while, you get something as frigging awesome as Spirited Away, hands down one of my all time favorite films. This movie has the creativity of all the great trippy fairy tales, Alice in Wonderland, Labyrinth, The Nightmare Before Christmas, so much of this really original stuff that you just don't see that much anymore. I almost wonder if years later, they're gonna try and do a reboot of this, like a different interpretation. The world is so open, the creatures so strange, it actually would kind of be fun to see an artist's different interpretation of it. Most people say you know something is a masterpiece when you can't duplicate it. In a sense, I kind of disagree. People say books like Peter Pan or Christmas Carol are masterpieces, but we're constantly seeing different versions of it all the time. So many new adaptations come out, and I can see the same thing happen with this. It's a world you're both delighted by and horrified by at the same time. You wanna live in it, but you also kind of wanna run away from it. In my opinion, that's the making of a great environment.
Doug (vo): The story is about a little girl and her parents that are moving to a new neighborhood. They come across what they think is an abandoned theme park, but really, it's an enchanted bathhouse. When the sun goes down and the lights come on, all sorts of various spirits come from around the world to relax here. This terrifies our main character, as she finds out her parents have turned into pigs, and she also lives in a world that absolutely hates humans. But luckily, she befriends a boy, who can thankfully also turn into a dragon, who decides he wants to help her. He introduces her to the old lady who runs the place, and decides that if she wants to stay alive, she'll have to get a job. And the rest of the film is her just trying to survive in this bizarre place, while also trying to make friends out of enemies who can eventually help her get her parents back.
Doug (vo): The girl in this movie named Zen* is very identifiable. She is terrified of everything, but so are we. We don't know what this world is, and it is really creepy. We see weird stuff happen, like I said, her parents turn into pigs. There's monsters around every corner, she has to sneak around, or else, they'll kill her. But at the same time, you start to enjoy kind of the goofiness of it, too.
(*Her real name is Chihiro and her changed name is actually Sen.)
[Several of the film's side characters are shown]
Doug (vo): There are a lot of funny characters with unbelievable designs. This whole movie is like a party house for imagination. Every creature has their own unique look, some more human, some more spider-like, some more lizard-like, and the majority of them have very distinct and likable personalities. What I kind of like about it, though, is unlike something like Kiki or My Neighbor Totoro, they do put a little bit more of a story to it. There is still a goal that has to be accomplished by the end of the film. She has to escape and save her parents. But it's how she goes through it that's the focus and what's so entertaining. She comes across so many delightful people, both delightful at how charming they are or delightful at how terrible they are. Some are even kind of half-and-half, and it's hard to get a grasp on them. Like most of Miyazaki's great work, there is no one straight-up villain. There's just kind of rude people, kind of crazy people, kind of sane people, it's just a wide variety.
[The film's main character is shown]
Doug (vo): The voice acting, once again, pitch perfect. That's the same actress who voiced Lilo doing the voice of Zen. Man, what a talent. She gets every emotion you need to feel in every scene. She is frantic, she is whiny, and she is a complainer, but it's never to a point where she's annoying. You totally understand what she's going through. Hell, you would probably do half of this stuff, too. There's also so many great side stories going on, about discovering people's pasts, finding out the flaws of these creatures, and how they can be helped out. But even in between all of that, there can still be moments of just relaxing and letting the atmosphere sink in.
[The scene where the characters are riding on a train is shown]
Doug (vo): My God, my favorite scene is when they're on the train. Nothing is happening here, they're just traveling and looking out the window. But after all the craziness that's happened, it's just the one place you want to be. There's no dialogue here, there's no talking whatsoever. It's just them looking out the window, and you can feel what they're going through. This is the power of a visual medium. Not everything has to be spelled out. A scene can just play and you can take whatever you want from it, because you know there's such talented people behind it, talented people that can make you feel afraid in one scene but delighted in the next.
[Scenes mostly focusing on the old lady's twin sister is shown]
Doug (vo): If I really had to nitpick anything, I mean, frigging anything in this movie, it's that the owner of the shop also has a twin sister. They literally look exactly alike, even down to what they wear, and with all this creativity and different people and creations, why didn't you make her look different? She didn't have to be a twin sister, I mean, okay, there's one scene where she kind of fools Zen, but it wasn't necessary. You could've made her more beautiful or more ugly or just do something a little different. But like I said before, that's really scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of nitpicking.
Doug (vo): I said before this is a movie that's so good, I'm actually kind of jealous of it. I wish I could come up with something this beautiful-looking, I wish I could create these incredible locations, I wish I could come up with such funny ideas to get rid of curses and stuff like that. It's kind of like the imagination of a brilliant child, but brought to life by brilliant adults, these incredible animators and phenomenal storytellers that just keep you sucked in, through the simple needs of our main characters that anybody can identify with, and can identify with very quickly. Being scared of a new place, trying to figure out your identity, having problems with family, putting up with people you don't like, all these things that are so quick to pick up, and it's all done in one of the most incredible environments ever put onscreen. I love this movie from beginning to end. It's just unbelievable. The acting, the writing, the storytelling, and above all, the unbelievable imagination. Everyone's praised the hell out of this movie, and I'm one of the critics who's just gonna do the same. But it's just that good. I can't find that many things wrong with it. It's the exact kind of movie I would want to see at any age, one that just engulfs me in its world. I don't even know what else to say about it. It's just amazing. Pop it in your DVD player and experience it for yourself.
[A scene where Chihiro waves goodbye and leaves a room while closing the door is shown]