My wife was out of town last week, which meant many things, but mainly that the DVR was off limits because it stores countless episodes of “our shows” and, as you know, “our shows” cannot be watched by “just me.” However, please note that it does fall within accepted social graces to watch any given show in its entirety despite my wife falling asleep on the couch well before the third act. I have this in writing.
But I digress. It was Sunday, she was gone, it was raining, and the boys and I were literally stuck to the sofa for hours—not “literally” by its original definition, but “literally” like people use it now, previously known as “figuratively.” English is a living language! Also, our couch is pretty gross.
We had three new Disney Blu-ray releases from Studio Ghibli, and pizza on the way. We were set. We watched all of the movies: Pom Poko, Tales From Earthsea, and Porco Rosso, in that order, and this is what we thought:
Pom Poko (PG), directed by Isao Takahata, is the classic battle between man and nature, where nature equals shape-shifting raccoons. Fun fact, they are only called raccoons in the U.S. version. A bit of real-time research (see, Google) revealed that they are actually called raccoon dogs. Why was I researching Pom Poko in the middle of the movie? For the same reason you will, because a good portion of the film had us asking “Is that?” and “What am I looking at?” and “Daddy, are those . . .” and yes, yes they are.
You see, the male raccoon
dogs have something called a “pouch.” Two somethings, actually, swinging free as nature does, and getting the pack into all kinds of whacky shenanigans. I must admit, my boys surprised me in that they didn’t make a big deal about it (them?), but even then I knew that I would have to write this post and that I couldn’t tell parents about this movie without making a joke about deflategate.
The film is pretty heavy-handed in its message (think Happy Feet, but with less feet), and I’m the choir they are preaching to, but we enjoyed it. I will, however, say that it was my least favorite of the three.
Goro Miyazaki’s Tales From Earthsea (PG-13) is based on the “Earthsea” fantasy book series by Ursula K. Le Guin. We are fantasy fans, and we really liked this one.
Tales From Earthsea has some fairly dark scenes, as fantasy films are prone to do, and it left a few questions unanswered, but, and this is just a theory, I believe that was done on purpose! Why? To make the viewer think, of course. Man, foreign films are wild.
I was pretty confident that Tales From Earthsea was going to be my favorite of the bunch, what with the magic and the dragons, but I promised the boys a trilogy and they were still awake, so we put in Porco Rosso and then . . .
Porco Rosso (PG), from Hayao Miyazaki, is an incredibly original story (yes, more original than raccoon pouches) about a World War I flying ace and his many issues with honor, chivalry, and Italy.
Porco, who was cursed with a pig’s face, but totally makes it work—battles a group of sky pirates (more like a union actually, or maybe a guild) and their hired gun Curtis the American, even though half the cast sounds like they’re from America—for love, respect, and the accepting of acceptance. It is funny, smart, and wonderfully touching.
To their credit the boys enjoyed all three, and they swore they did so equally, but while I also thought all of the films were quite good I really feel that Porco Rosso was just too amazing not to give it an extra bit of gushing, and that’s what this paragraph is.
Disney provided the three Blu-ray copies that I discussed above. The opinions, obviously, are my own.