Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jellyfish are Metroids of the sea

Goddammit. I finally get myself to write something and now my computer is giving me a five-minute countdown to get my shit together before restarting. I guess I'll just wait here and continue to hum the tune I've been humming for an hour now, even though I don't know what the name of the goddamn thing is.

So I'm back now and it turns out the song was Gliding Dance of the Maidens from Borodin's Prince Igor (which was then pretty much jacked and turned into Stranger in Paradise). I am such a fag.

Anyways. When Hayao Miyazaki decides to make a kids movie, he doesn't make some pandering lame-ass bullshit like fuckin' G-Force (strictly assumptions here). Miyazaki-san's invitation basically has a note at the bottom that says "This is a kids party, but don't worry, adults will have fun too and we're serving wine and beer here, not just punch". So for a couple of hours, you'll start feeling like a kid again in the best way (and the only acceptable way, in my opinion). You'll forget all the cynical, snarky bullshit that you developed as an adult and just sit back and go Wow in the wonderful way we all used to do as children when we watched a movie on the big screen. By we, I mean me.

His latest is called Ponyo and I guess Disney wasn't going to fuck around and risk us dumbass Americans not watching it, so the poster font looks damn near Finding Nemo as a way to entice people. Hey, it's fish and it's Disney and it looks like Nemo! They also got actors like Tina Fey and Matt Damon to do the voices for the U.S. dub, and while sometimes it sounds a little awkward, I'm all right with it. Normally, it's gotta be subtitles or nothing at all, as far as I'm concerned, but the Disney people try pretty hard when doing the English adaptation and besides, it allows me to concentrate on the big-screen visuals. I can always listen to the original Japanese and read subtitles on the DVD for the next viewing.

Should I even bother trying to explain what the fuck this flick's about? There's a comedian named Daniel Tosh and he had a bit about how sometimes a motherfucker can come off like a raving jackass loon when trying to explain a dream to someone else. That's how I feel trying to explain what Ponyo's about. I mean, I already come off as a rambling douchebag and I don't need to add to that shit by telling you about the fish girl with a human face and red hair and how she licks blood off a little boy's finger and that gives her the power to will herself into sprouting arms and legs and she has a thing for eating ham and her father lives in the deep sea creating marine life by using a wand and mixing various elixirs and satellites are falling to Earth and the moon is coming closer and fucking everything up. I don't want to risk it.

But yeah, that's the kind of shit that happens here. Some boy named Sosuke lives in a fishing town with his Tina Fey-voiced mom, and he finds Ponyo the fish girl washed up and stuck in a glass jar. He breaks Ponyo out and gets real friendly with her, even telling his girlfriends at school to fuck off 'cause he's busy palling around with Young Splash. Meanwhile, Ponyo's dad is looking for her, and I don't know what his deal is; he looks human but constantly needs to water himself when he's on dry land. He's voiced by Liam Neeson, and the last time Liam Neeson had to look for his daughter in a movie, motherfuckers got OWNED. Also, whenever he's back in his underwater castle, he's mixing potions and talking to himself, and the last time Liam Neeson did that in a movie, motherfuckers got OWNED. Now you got him doing both in this movie, so I was a little worried for Sosuke and his mom.

But the worries didn't last long, because it's not that kind of movie and even if it was, Miyazaki's never been one for making it black & white in the antagonist department. The closest thing to a bad guy might be the old lady with Lily Tomlin's voice, but it's easy to see things her way, she just happens to be wrong. You know, like human beings in general.

If you ever become friends with Ponyo, you better look forward to her company because she will run on giant waves with eyes (I know!) and chase after you just to hang out. She means well, but that kind of shit can look a tad desperate, is all I'm saying. Also, she appears to suffer from the same malady Austin Powers suffered from when he came out of cryogenic hibernation, she can't control THE VOLUME OF HER VOICE AND SHE ALWAYS TALKS THIS LOUD AND IT NEVER GETS LOWER THAN THIS.

Despite Ponyo's loud voice, there's something about this flick -- and all of Miyazaki's movies -- that feels so chill. Even when there's crazy shit going on, there's a calm sense to it all. I dig that. And yet as relaxed a movie as Ponyo is, nearly every shot is busy with stuff going on. You have characters talking to each other but over at the edge of the screen there's always a crab walking by or a little octopus slowly creeping its way through the backdoor or something else kinda awesome like that. I don't know how this motherfucker can make a baby slowly closing its eyes such an intriguing thing to watch, but he sure as fuck does it.

Like the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro, there's stuff here that walks a fine line between Awww, How Cute and Jesus Christ What The Fuck Is That! But you're in Miyazaki's hands, so it's all good. I'm not gonna let you get hurt, trust me, he seems to be telling us, the Catbus won't eat you and neither will these scary-ass ancient species of extinct fish with big-ass fangs.

Some motherfuckers always have to make it about fucking. That's why they're getting all disturbed and posting shit on the message boards, talking about Eww, how could a 5-year-old boy be in love with a young (fish) girl? Maybe I'm wrong, but perhaps Sosuke doesn't think of her in that way. Maybe it's the kind of love one would have for a family member (insert hack Deep South joke here). Why does it have to be about romance? I'll give you this; when the dude gets into puberty age, then yeah, he'll probably start looking at Ponyo differently, but even then, that's gonna be at least a few months of jackin' it like crazy before he works up the nerve to try hit Little Ms. Thing.

Cate Blanchett is the voice of Ponyo's mother, some kind of Queen of the Sea or some shit. She and Neeson do the best with their adapted dialogue, which probably has something to do with being great actors with the ability to make even the lousiest lines sing. Fey and Damon, on the other hand, do not fare so well. I don't know who the fuck does Ponyo's voice, but Sosuke is voiced by a Jonas brother, because apparently that kind of shit matters to kids. Joe Hisaishi composed the music, and goddamn, it's some beautiful stuff. I don't know about the end credits song, though. Whatever. I'm only familiar with his collaborations with Miyazaki and Takeshi Kitano, and as far as I'm concerned he's right up there with Morricone, Williams and Herrmann when it comes to making great soundtracks that could stand on their own, without the visuals.

Speaking of the visuals, they're just as lovely as you'd expect from a Miyazaki production. This guy's old-school, using hand-drawings rather than CGI, and while I'm not against those other kinds of animation, I think it's cool to see amazing work still being done in this manner. Storywise, Miyazaki-san's done better, but even his worst is still pretty fucking good, so I liked it.

They had a couple of trailers to other animated movies that didn't look so bad at the time, but directly following Ponyo, looked real shitty in comparison. Like the Planet 51 trailer that features a scene with a little robot rover thingy getting so scared that it leaks oil. Get it, it pissed itself! HAR HAR HAR! PEE PEE BE FUNNY LAFF LAFF! These motherfuckers are working their asses off with their fart and piss jokes and along comes Miyazaki, making entertaining the audience and keeping them enthralled look so goddamn effortless. They can't even use the "Well, this is a kids' movie" excuse because Ponyo is pretty much just a kids' movie. What a bunch of fucking assholes.