Ponyo Stories From the Ghibli Freaks

Reader Doug chimes in with his report on his family trip to see Ponyo:

I wanted to give you my impressions (long winded as they are) of our Ponyo experience yesterday.  Here we go.....
Well, yesterday was our family Miyazaki happy summertime celebration and it didn’t fail to live up to all the hype we had put on it.  I skipped out of work a couple hours early, picked up the family and off we went to the big multi-plex (gosh I hate those places). 
We had purchased our tickets online so there was no chance (if by chance) that we wouldn’t be able to get into the overstuffed theater - $42.00 dollah.  Then of course we got the obligatory popcorn and freezee drinks the kids were eyeing up - $35.75 dollah.  I’m asiding to my wife, “This is why people don’t go the movies anymore” …but that’s beside the point.
We arrived in plenty of time to catch the Jay Leno advertisements (what the?) and see the previews none of which I can recall what they were.  My first moment of fear came when my six year old daughter was covering her ears during one of the previews.  As you know, this is one of my major complaints about the theaters and movies in general today – they must be loud (say this with an Ah-nold Schwarz voice).  Its quite irritating, sort of like being assaulted for the second time, the first one being the shake down for the popcorn.  Okay, as my wife told me, let it go. 
We shared the theater with about 15 or so, other people - couple other families and their kids.  And a pair of loud boys who thankfully left about 2/3 of the way through.  Enough of the preliminaries …
Well, Ponyo finally began and it was a huge sigh of relief for me, the entire movie.  I found myself with my mouth either agape or a stupid grin on my face from start to finish.  As I scanned my families faces I saw smiles, big smiles – and enraptured stares.  They were totally into this movie from the first frame.  There were no moments where I thought “uh oh, we’re losing them” and at no time did I fear a repeat of our Wall-E experience when we had to leave because they had had all the sensory overload they could take. 
My personal thoughts on the film are that this is an achievement on the highest order.  Ghibli and Miyazaki have created a film that all of us, from ages 4 – 44, can enjoy without pandering to the kids, preaching to the parents, or forcing the humor or story.  It unfolds so organincally, it moves along with ease and speed and it also moves along slowly when it needs to.  I think of the scenes when Ponyo  has followed Sosuske and his Mom on the waves and finally meets up with him.  There is such time and space in that scene, we’re given the chance to see him process all of this magic that is Ponyo, to recognize her as the former fish and a new girl.  Miyazaki gives each scene its due in timing and it is a wonder to be a part of. 
I won’t bother to tell you my favorite parts because then I’d be forced to choose and I couldn’t do that.  The entire film had me captivated from the get-go and I was really swept up in it, swept up in all that water, that beautiful water, the magic of those morphing waves, and fish and and and … I must see this movie again. 
It was worth the crazy money and the trip and the time away from work (when isn’t it?) to bring my family to see this.  They all loved it and we even stayed for the ridiculous version of the theme that we’ve all heard so much about.  We danced and sang along and generally made fun of it, while catching the tribute to the staff on the credits.  Right through to the end – we couldn’t look away. 
Several times during the movie we heard laughter from the kids around us.  For my kids the whole bit with the ham was a big hit.  When I asked them what part of the movie was their favorite no one could choose and my nine year old replied, “I loved the whole thing!”. 
I owe a big thank you to Miyazaki-san for giving us so many special moments with our family through his films, not the least was yesterday’s experience with Ponyo.  We watch a lot of movies, and his are the favorites by far (and they haven’t been ready for the more adult ones yet, I have so much more to share with them!!).  I see Ponyo being a new favorite for them, perhaps even surpassing Totoro as their all time favorite.  Time will tell, but for me Ponyo is a new high watermark in so many ways for filmgoing – it’s the first movie I’ve seen with my family in the theater that we’ve been able to enjoy all the way through and that is no small achievement!

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