Tag Archive: miyazaki


Lovin’ that Animation

Family Movie Night

When it comes to animated movies, I am a real sucker.

But like any other movie, I want it to be good. I have gone to the theater to see bad Winnie the Pooh movies or other movies directed at kids that I could not understand how they ever got the green light to be made.

I have a few favorites that I will watch over and over again with my kids. Or maybe without them.

Movie Poster for My Neighbor Totoro, picture from IMDb.com

I first found Studio Ghibli when I was searching for a movie to watch with my oldest when he was sick one afternoon. I picked up My Neighbor Totoro and fell in love with Japanese folk tales and creatures later that day.

The story is about a father and his two daughters who move into a home in the country. It may or may not be haunted but it is definitely near the home of a giant Totoro, king of the forest.  The girls are also missing their mother who must stay in a hospital for the time being.

Hayao Miyazaki directed this film, giving it emotional depth and artistic beauty with the hand drawn animation. If you like this movie, you may also like some of his other films including Ponyo (with a little girl that looks like Mai from Totoro) and Spirited Away. Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke are titles that may be better suited for pre-teen and teenagers.

Buzz and Woody racing to the moving van in Toy Story, picture from IMDb.com

 This year, I was enamored with Toy Story 3, a sequel that was as good as the original. In the running for Best Picture at the Oscars, the story follows the gang of toys as Andy prepares to go to college.  Bad things happen Andy’s bag does not go to the attic as intended but to the donation box to a day care center.

What should be a great second life for toys turns into something else when the toys run afoul of Lotso, the ruler of the toys in the daycare center. We know that an escape plan will be hatched. But what happens after that takes things farther than most ‘cute kids films’ are willing to go.

Go for the whole series, appropriate for all family members, because we get nothing but solid story telling from producers who respect the audience enough to give them the goods without sitting on their laurels.  

Tarzan (1999) , picture from IMDb.cm

My last pick is two movies that I love for being great family films that are exciting and wonderful in their story telling. If either of these two movies happens to appear on regular TV, chances are I will stop what I am doing and watch them. The Incredibles and Tarzan get me every time.

Each has style and a certain elegance in the artwork that draws me in every time. There are plenty of quirky characters and real affection between the leads that make me want to watch them again and again and again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

Now that the weather has warmed up a bit, I am ready to go in the garden.

Last week I raked out the compost and started putting down some new mulch. I also started thinking about what I want in said garden, what plants to add despite not taking out anything else.

I am on the lookout for oblong wire baskets I can attach to the garage windows to give that part of the yards a more ‘cottage’ look to it. Because that is a shade area, I plan to fill the baskets with impatiens and verbena. I have hosta plants that I am willing to trade in case anyone has something other than the leaves with white on the outside and lavender colored flowers. It would be nice to have more than one variety to break things up a bit.

This week when it comes to movies, there are two kid movies our family has been on the lookout for which have hit the stores. I have heard rave reviews about both of these movies, calling them excellent movies for families that we wish we could find all of the time. The Bowman plan is to watch them both this weekend.

The first is Where The Wild Things Are, based on the classic book by Maurice Sendak. The story is about a boy who misbehaves one night and is sent to his room with no supper. Max likes to wear his wolf costume and pretend he is a wild thing. And on that night he gets to go to the magical island where they all live.

Director Spike Jonze has added a few plot points that were not in the book. Max runs away from home to find a boat that leads him to an island with huge monsters that might want to eat him. And these monsters can still be a bit scary for little ones. But Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, whose opinion I trust, loved this movie when it first came out last summer.

The second movie is Ponyo which is written by the Japanese animation master Hayoa Miyazaki. It is the story of a goldfish princess who longs to be human. One day a five-year-old boy named Sosuke finds her and promises to take care of her after naming her Ponyo. Ponyo then magically become human and this upsets the balance of things. It is filled with wonderful animation and fully realized characters.

Both movies came out the beginning of March and these two were second and third in sales, respectively. Only the disaster movie 2012 beat them out. I would say that is a good sign families are looking for good solid movies to watch. With Ponyo and Where The Wild Things Are, I would say the odds are pretty high families got their wish.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net or become my friend on Facebook.