Movie Review: Ponyo
I guess since Disney had no qualms about stealing the classic anime ‘Kimba the White Lion’ to make ‘The Lion King’, its only fair that "Ponyo" is a re-imagining of ‘The Little Mermaid’. Actually, acclaimed director, Hayao Miyazaki, based his tenth film on the original Little Mermaid as written by Hans Christian Anderson. It’s still the story of a redheaded fish-girl obsessed with the surface world that disobeys her disapproving father and surrenders her birthright to fall in love with a human. Only this time out ‘Ponyo’ starts as more of a goldfish than a mermaid and she and the boy she’s fallen in love with, Souske, are roughly 6 or 7 years-old.
"Ponyo" has all the trappings of every other Miyazaki movie except that it’s narrowly aimed at a young audience. Not only are the main characters very young but their design is simplistic and the backgrounds were all drawn in rough colored pencil in a way that resembles a gifted child’s crayon drawings. The story is certainly cute but there’s no real sense of danger or even tension.
As Miyazaki movies go it’s hard to imagine this one being in any fan’s Top 5 unless they haven’t yet graduated from the third grade or it speaks to the neglected 8-year old inside them.