Posts Tagged 'humor'

Wick-Quoting #49: Crazy, Stupid, Love.

“I’m going to help you rediscover your manhood.  Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?”

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I didn’t have any sort of strong interest in watching Crazy, Stupid, Love. (from now on referred to as CSL).  The trailer didn’t show any sort of promise, besides the fact of having Steve Carell and Emma Stone, both being very funny people.  So I was shocked at how entertaining the movie actually turned out to be.  CSL is a lot similar to Bridesmaids – not because the stories are the same, but because both are not as popular romantic comedies that are actually topnotch in their genre.

Michae... I mean Steve Carell pulling on some moves

It is no surprise that the cast of the movie helps with the entertainment – after all, Steve Carell and Emma Stone both starred in successful romantic comedies themselves (The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Easy A respectively).  Steve Carell is always fun to watch, although in this movie he plays more of a middle aged loser than a goofy guy.  All the other actors are alright too and the kid actor, Jonah Bobo, is surprisingly not that bad.  He is not one of those kid actors who make you cringe.

The couple in question

The situational humor is pretty good in CSL and there is one moment in the movie where all the separate stories come together, creating a pretty awesome scene of confusion, anger, and awkwardness. Even though I find some parts of the story to be a bit shallow, the movie still is touching and runs on the ideal of giving second chances.  So despite the awful trailer, give CSL a second chance and watch it.  The movie is guaranteed to give you some good laughs.

8.4

Quoted by MWP

Ander: 9.2

New Site: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=225

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Wick-Quoting #43: The Hangover Part II

“Well, used to be just baloney, but now they make you add number.”

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Why does Hollywood continue to make bad movies?  Not only is it because Hollywood lacks original content, but it is also because people (like you and me) pay to watch the same kinds of films in order to get the same feeling as we did last time.  The Hangover Part II is one of those movies we pay to see because we know what we will get out of it.  The Hangover Part II is pretty much the same as the first movie – the exact same “wolf pack” in stupid situations.  Only this time, the story lacks basic fundamentals of being believable and humorous.

They're back...

Zack Galianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper are again the main stars who go through an unfortunate series of events.  You would think that after what happened last time, the gang would be more cautious of Zack Galianakis’ character, Alan, but no.  They fall for the same trick, get drugged, and do some crazy shit.  You would think that the other characters would steer clear of Alan – he is unreasonable, immature, and unpredictable.  In the first movie, Zack Galianakis is hilarious.  In Due Date, his similar persona is still very entertaining to watch.  Now, in The Hangover Part II, Galianakis’ character is difficult to put up with.  His stupidity made me cringe many times throughout the screening.

Another song

And I know making fun of minorities is a fundamental part in mainstream American comedy.  It is in stand up, movies, television shows, etc.  But I find the making-fun-of-minorities in The Hangover Part II to be overdone and slightly offensive.  From Ken Jeong’s naked fury (yes it happens again) to the awkward Asian college kid, the film plays off on the demasculinity of Asian males that Hollywood has constructed ever since its birth.  Why must the movie have the Asian college kid carrying a stupid grin on his face despite the fact that he lost a finger?  Why must Jeong carry an accent and appear naked all the time?  Why must there be nude transvestites walking around on screen?  Why must Ed Helms’ character marry a hot Asian girl (Jamie Chung) and why must she agree to marry him despite his devilish demeanor?  And most importantly, why must the father be so easily persuaded by Stu’s gibberish and all of a sudden accept Stu as his son-in-law?  Yeah, I got a tattoo on my face, and yeah, your son lost a finger while under my supervision, but fuck, I am going to marry your daughter and you are going to like it!  Oh, yes sir…

Look out, Asian driving

Despite the racially, negative connotations, the film is still funny at parts, but not throughout.  However, I must be missing the joke that everyone else sees, because the movie has made over $350 million already from a budget of only $80 million.  If you want to watch a good comedy, forget The Hangover Part II – just watch the original.  Sure, Part II is mainstream and all, but it has all been done in the prequel – replace the baby with a monkey and Las Vegas with Bangkok and voila, you got yourself a Hollywood film.

5.9

Quoted by MWP

New Site: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=167

Wick-Quoting #38: Easy A

“I just thought of the funniest thing.  My name is an anagram for ‘I love.'”

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There was a bit of a hype when Easy A initially came out – and rightfully so.  The movie is fresh and contains plenty of original jokes.  Combine all that with Emma Stone, you got an enjoyable film to watch during the break.

How is Emma Stone not more popular?

Emma Stone is Easy A’s “pocket full of sunshine.”  Not only is she pretty, but she is funny and quirky in a good way as well.  Her personality is what makes the film so much more enjoyable to watch.  While the content of the film isn’t quite that amazing, Emma Stone fills in all the gaps which the film skips over.  The story does not have any major plot twists: it is more of a slice-of-life sort of narrative.

Students clean bathrooms now?

Because the film does not have cgi or any major stars, the budget was only 8 million total.  Easy A was able to bring in about 74 million, which isn’t bad – actually this is pretty good news for Emma Stone, considering that she was almost going to star in Sucker Punch instead.  Not only did Sucker Punch cost more to make (82 million), but just barely broke even (89 million), which goes to show the difference in quality between the two films.

I miss the days of tray lunches.

So the grade, not quite an A:

8.0

Quoted by MWP

Check out my new site: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=109

Wick-Quoting #24: Due Date

Due Date is definitely one of the funniest movies this year.  It stars two actors that come from two very different worlds, Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man 2) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover).

While the movie doesn’t have that much of a rewatch value, there is more story development in Due Date than there is in The Hangover, which was also directed by Todd Phillips.  I’m guessing in this case, fewer main characters allow for greater bonding.  That’s not to say that the movie has a deep story like those movies about inspiring coaches that come out once every two years or so.  You shouldn’t watch Due Date for story, but rather obviously, for humor.  Although the humor is not for everyone.  Some people will probably get easily offended.  Some people…

There's no break

The movie does not allow you to catch your breath: a new conflict arises at every moment.  At one point, they’re in a car chase, and then right when everything seems to have calmed, someone is shot.

Because this is a Hollywood film, it is targeted for the mainstream audience – white males.  This movie, similar to Phillips previous comedy, The Hangover, touches on the relationship between minorities and whites.  In The Hangover, Asians are represented by Ken Jeong’s flamboyant performance.  In Due Date, the black friend’s loyalty is questioned while Latinos are portrayed as hypocrites and druggies.  While all of these stereotypical portrayals are a bit bothersome, they shouldn’t be taken too seriously.  I wonder what race The Hangover 2 will “represent” next.

The film has subtle race conflicts

The film cost 65 million to make but only made around 72 million in the US so far.  Not that great of a success story compared to The Hangover, which not only cost less, but made 277 million in the US only.  It’s no wonder The Hangover 2 is being released.  A Due Date 2 will probably not see the light of day.  Even so, the movie should be rented out for the humor.  Go watch it, or what are you, a girl or something?

7.8

Wick-Quoting #21: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Movie of the summer with the highest hopes for: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Movie of the summer that is the biggest letdown: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

The main problem with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is how the story is sloppily put-together.  You can compare the movie to a messy peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  The humor is the peanut butter.  The special effects and crowd-pleasing action are the jelly.  The story, from beginning to end, are the bread slabs.  Basically, the movie has way too much peanut butter and jelly for the bread pieces to hold, making the sandwich really messy.  The film seems to try to focus on the yummy insides alone and neglect the story element, just as long as it holds.  What’s wrong with the story you ask?  There are two main problems.

Nuh uh, I'm not passing this film off that easy

1) The main character, Scott Pilgrim (no duh), comes off at the start of the story to be a greatly disliked character.  He has a history of treating girls with no respect, including the drummer, Kim.  He easily throws away his Asian girlfriend, Knives, after setting his eyes on Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  He also cheats on his Asian girlfriend in order to be with Ramona.  So right at the start, the protagonist is labeled as a douche.  Why would we as spectators want to root for a “hero” like that?  Just because he fights battles with Ramona’s exes?  Why would he even fight for Ramona in the first place when Ramona doesn’t even seem like that great of a girl anyways?  She does, after all, have a shitload of baggage.

It is only at the very end where Scott realizes that he’s a douche and apologizes to the girls that he fucked up.  It is only at the end where spectators are given the chance to see Scott in another light.  The end is too late for that.

Am I also a douche? Yes, yes you are

2) The movie pretty much appeals to the male, white audience.  The movie has a white protagonist with white supporting characters.  He dumps his Asian girlfriend in order to be with a white girl.  The Asian male characters (the Katayanagi twins) don’t have a big role and their fight is the lamest of them all.  Also, the twins don’t even have speaking parts, and they’re grouped as one opponent.  So the film makes it seem like it’s ok for Scott to cheat on and throw away Knives, just because she’s Asian.  Her being Asian makes it a little bit “ok.”  And Knives is ridiculously infatuated with Scott (despite how he treats her) and continues to go around stalking him.  She even goes so far as to fight for him at the end, with a typical dragon lady appearance.  If Knives was a real girl, she would say, “fuck you” and leave Scott to fend for himself.  But of course, Asian girls in Hollywood cinema are stupid and hopelessly in love with white, male leads.

And why do the twins in the film have to be Asian too?  The second most deprecating roles in the film are once again, filled in with Asian actors.  It’s almost like saying making the twins Asian supports the idea that Ramona being with them both at the same time makes it all the more easier to indulge.  Out of all the exes, they get the least amount of film time, they don’t talk at all, and the audience aren’t even made aware of what their names are, as if it doesn’t really matter (which it really doesn’t).  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is definitely a film that is white, male dominated.

Oh, so that's what their names were

Putting the terrible protagonist and story aside, the graphics and comedy are the top of its genre.  The gay jokes, to the bitchy girl, to Michael Cera’s awkwardness all makes the questionable story less questionable.  The humor serves more than just a comic relief.  It serves as a story relief as well.  The video game references, the Zelda song, and the action captions are all nice touches, but the movie seems to be a bit overboard with those.

Am I the only one who found the idea of fighting for self respect a little corny and ridiculous?  At least fighting for love is generally accepted in mainstream society.  Fight for yourself rather than for the person you’re trying to save is a little bit off course.

This is not the sword of love.. but the sword of self respect!!

If you’re going to watch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, don’t expect much story-wise.  Just go to see the witty references and humor.  Don’t even bother going to see the action sequences.  All the battles are won way to simply, with Scott taking so much damage, then at the end he just gives his enemies one hit and poof, they disappear.  The total opposite of a video game if you ask me.  Nice try, trying to make the movie video game-like.

The film is still worth a view just for the humor and references.

6.9

P.S. My review can be pretty much summed up with a comment I found on the internet by chavi00 in response to http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2010/08/go-and-pay-to-see-scott-pilgrim-right-now.html

Scott Pilgrim is pretty on the eyes and light on the substance. It is filled with secondary characters who are more interesting than the leads. The plot is weak and there is a supreme lack of emotional depth. Ultimately, there is absolutely nothing to care about in this movie.

True that brother.

Wick-Quoting #8: Imagination Within Imagination

I wanna get private lessons

Introduction

Pretty much every one of Miyazaki’s films contains imagination one way or another.  All of his films are a product of his own imagination after all; however, what about the supposed imagination of the characters within Miyazaki’s films?  Do the characters really imagine these dream-like worlds or fantasies, or are they actually part of the real world within the film?  For example, in Spirit Away, the young girl, Chihiro, is trapped in another world, distant from her own.  At first, she even mentions the possibility that it is all a dream – she even tries hitting herself on the head a couple of times with no avail.  And the film tricks you at the end, when the parents notice the car covered in twigs and leaves, as if it was sitting there for days.  Why does Miyazaki do this – making it a possibility that his characters may be imagining certain important elements and characters – in his films, which realms created by his own imagination?  Miyazaki is known for never being direct with his audiences.  An imaginative world with characters getting lost within their own little imaginative worlds shows Miyazaki’s circuitousness.  So what exactly results from this?

In films, the overall goal for directors is to immerse their audiences into the film, and connect them with the story and characters.  To do so, many different strategies are used, including relatable characters and the following of the growth of the protagonist.  Nowadays, directors rely on 3-D, the cheap and easy method, to further immerse viewers with their films.  Miyazaki’s strategy is to have his characters create an imaginative world of their own, inviting viewers to enter the world of the characters, rather than the world of Miyazaki.  It is, after all, much easier for viewers to relate with the character and her world than with the director and his world.  For starters, characters are seen on screen, while directors are hidden as puppeteers.  So, for Miyazaki to have his viewers engross in his character’s imagination rather than his own makes watching his films a much more enjoyable experience.  In Spirited Away, watching Chihiro interact with characters from her imagination is much more believable and interesting than watching Chihiro interact within another’s world, such as Miyazaki.  In this way, Miyazaki should be viewed as the creator of Chihiro, not Chihiro’s imaginative world.

Spirited Away – Young Fears

Chihiro, the young protagonist, can be easily related with young audiences, and “serves as a potential role model for today’s generation of apathetic Japanese youth” (Napier 288).  The horror of her parents being turned into pigs is something which young audiences can relate to – the fear of transformation and shape shifting.  With this act of transformation, the film is able to mix humor and horror.  Young adults constantly experience transformation in their lives – whether it has to do with ghastly puberty, or just natural steady growth of height.  Young audiences can relate with Chihiro and her world, especially because it is a world created and experienced by a young adult as shown on screen.  It would have been much different, and not as smooth in narration, if Chihiro was an older adult experiencing the trauma of watching her parents turn into pigs.  In that case, the film would eradicate all humor and settle with just horror.  That’s one of the benefits of young adults: the world which Chihiro experiences is acceptable mainly due to the fact of her age; so age has a determining factor of viewers accepting creativity and their willingness to follow it.  We as audiences succumb much more to Chihiro as a character and her imagination because she is at the acceptable age to have these sorts of wild fascinations.  An older character experiencing such imagination would only constitute as a crazy individual, belonging in a mental institution.  Chihiro’s young, imaginative world allows for comfortable, enjoyable viewing.

Now it is not certain that it is Chihiro who creates this other world or that this other world existed and Chihiro just happens to stumble into it.  But this really doesn’t change the fact of who the person in charge of the world is.  Miyazaki created Chihiro, and Chihiro could have possibly created this other world with Haku in it.  Chihiro is still the one who’s in question of imagining this world.  She is also the one experiencing it.

Spirited Away borrows from earlier works, including Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, both stories containing little girls driven by their imagination.  Alice, who experiences a wild adventure in her “dream,” and Dorothy, who enters another world after being knocked out from a tornado, have similar elements with Chihiro.  All three of them enter their world of imagination through a certain portal: a rabbit hole for Alice, a tornado for Dorothy, and a tunnel for Chihiro.

Tunnels are an important medium in Spirit Away.  Chihiro went through a tunnel, which sparked the beginning of the imaginative world.  The tunnel is key to handing over the creative power from Miyazaki, to Chihiro.  This act is necessary in order for viewers to have the mentality that it is now Chihiro’s imagination that they are experiencing.  Even though the tunnel is Chihiro’s portal into her imaginative world, it is not as apparent as Alice’s or Dorothy’s, in that Chihiro is not shown falling asleep.  This only emphasizes Miyazaki’s pleasure of confusing his audiences by not being completely clear in his storytelling.  All that is shown is Chihiro walking through the a red tunnel while clinging desperately onto her mother.  It is clear, however, that the tunnel is the link between the real and fantastic, by the different environments at the opposite ends.

Into the rabbit hole you go...

Within their worlds of imagination, they experience fears which are shared by young adults alike.  And upon conquering them, they all “wake up” to find that it could all have been just a part of their imagination, a dream.  This repetition of a young character exploring her own imagination is apparently a popular storyline in mainstream media.  Winsor McCay, a very successful animator during the early 1900s, made this plotline popular through his comic strip, Little Nemo.  In this comic strip, Nemo went to sleep in order to get to Slumberland, a world built in his dreams.  There, he battled monsters and saved princesses; but in the end of it all, he’d wake up and be scolded or comforted by one of the grownups of the household.  As history proves, having a story told through the imagination of the main character, is a successful and appeal tactic in story telling.  It is no wonder that this way of dreamlike storytelling is used again and again.

As mentioned before, immersing in a character’s imagination rather than Miyazaki’s, makes for a more enjoyable experience.  In Chihiro’s world, she comes across problems and fears that a typical young adult would have.  One of them is the illusion of disappearing from the minds of peers and family members.  This is a common problem young adults face, especially in high school, where being popular and noticeable are one of the main worries to have.  In order to prevent the fear of disappearing or being forgotten, young adults go great lengths, including dressing nicely, having intricate hair styles, and emphasizing on a certain skill.  Chihiro experiences the fear of disappearing in her imaginative world and initially refuses to eat the pill that Haku offers her.  Her fear of disappearing is evidently seen in her expression as he realizes her body becomes see-through.  With the image of horror on her face, viewers can share her fear of disappearing.  Sharing fears between characters and viewers means that a successful viewing experience is being had.

Chihiro realizes she has special powers

Another fear which is universally shared is the fear of heights.  This is a typical fear amongst humans, especially those of a young age.  Chihiro’s fear of heights is apparent in the scene when she attempts to crawl down the side stairs to Kamajii’s work area.  Chihiro’s imaginative world containing such familiar fears makes the film believable and amusing to watch, because we can relate to her fears as our own.  If we are to watch Chihiro as part of an imaginative world of Miyazaki, then we as viewers would have to cut all ties with Chihiro and her experiences, because we would have to view her and her fears as experiences of Miyazaki.  Therefore, Miyazaki acts as a barrier between his viewers and his characters and the adventures that they experience.  So Miyazaki directing his films through his character’s imagination removes himself as a wall, and allows viewers to be closer with his characters.   A good film can be partially determined by the linkage between viewers and characters: the stronger the link, the better the film.

Totoro – Childhood Memories

Totoro has the similar imagination-from-little-girls-is-socially-acceptable-and-interesting experience.    Throughout the whole film, it is unsure if Totoro is a figment of Mei and Satsuki’s imagination, or if Totoro is an actual real being who appears only before them.  Nonetheless, Totoro is coined as part of the girl’s imaginative world, as seen in the scene where the girls first meet the grandmother figure and she explains to them how she was able to see the soot spreaders when she was little.  This explanation tips off the fact that the film from that point on will be seen as part of the girls’ imagination.  Being able to see things when you’re little obviously pertains to a child’s tendency to make believe and imagine.  Imagination as a child is something everyone has done in their life, so the way Mei and Satsuki act is familiar to everyone – from their hallucination of strange creatures down to their childlike fits.  These make the film a lot more interesting, especially considering Miyazaki’s concern that the film wouldn’t be that appealing due to its lack of plot.

How long can you balance for?

The film is filled with imagination from the girls, such as the soot spreaders in the new house to the infamous cat bus.  If you look at the film as a work of Miyazaki’s imagination, you see a plain, Japanese countryside with two young girls trying to satisfy their need of motherly affection through their imagination.  When you view the film as an imaginative world of the girls, the film becomes a lot more interesting.  No one but them can see Totoro.  Totoro helps the girls cope with everyday life.  Using their imagination, Mei and Satsuki allow audiences to see the world through their eyes.  Mei and Satsuki’s imaginative encounter with Totoro shows the excitement that rain can have in the umbrella scene.  Through their imagination, the girls also show an alternative explanation of how wind is made.  Having wind made by Totoro flying about is a much more captivating explanation than saying that wind is made when there exists a difference in pressure.  Through the eyes of fascinated children, audiences see how wind is created, seeds grow, and Totoro travels.  The girls’ imagination not only makes the story more attractive, but also life in general.  Most people would be much more excited in life if they could meet Totoro themselves.

The girls’ imaginative world not only makes the film more enjoyable to watch, but also makes their lives more enjoyable to live in.  With the absence of their mother, a busy father, and a recent move of place out in the country, the girls are in a bit of a tough spot in their lives.  Therefore, it is only natural for them to resort to their imagination to make their lives more exciting (they’re children afterall).  To see children enter their own world of imagination increases the satisfaction of the film twofold.  First of all, watching little kids playing around in their own imaginative world is naturally enjoyable to watch.  People feel good watching others having fun; it’s a natural reaction.  Secondly, watching children play in their own imaginative world allows viewers to reminiscence about their own childhood, which is usually a place marker of pleasurable times and memories.  Also, recollecting old childhood memories allows viewers to link their childhood with Mei and Satsuki’s, further increasing the bond between character and viewer.

Kiki’s Delivery Service – Inclusion of Comedy

Pleasurable memories are usually associated with specific people in a person’s life.  In Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kiki shares a lot of her memories with her black cat, Jiji.  For some reason, whether it’s Kiki’s imagination or just plain magic, Kiki is able to understand Jiji during the beginning part of the film.  As Kiki builds relations with others in town, such as with Osono, Tombo, and Ursula, she begins to lose her understanding of Jiji.  It seems as though as she becomes more mature, she loses her childlike imagination of talking to animals.  This is a bit regrettable due to the fact that Jiji, like Calicifer in Howl’s Moving Castle, is the comic relief character of the film.  He has the lines which make the film a lot less heavy to watch, such as his comment of Kiki posing nude for Ursula and his whole scene with the female cat, Lily.  Not only do viewers benefit from Jiji’s humor of entertainment, but Kiki does as well.  Because it is her imagination which allows her to hear Jiji talk, perhaps she hears him as a sarcastic, comedic character, because that is what she needs most in her life at the moment.

Kiki’s imagination allows the audience to borrow her imagination and enjoy the sequence of Jiji acting like the toy with the old dog.  If it was not for Kiki’s imagination of being able to understand Jiji, then this priceless sequence would probably not contain the same elements of humor.  Jiji the cat would fail to deliver in this situation.  Jiji the comic relief character on the other hand is perfect, with his expression of terror as the dog sniffs him out and cuddles next to him.  Also, thanks to Kiki’s imagination, we as viewers are able to accept the fact of a sweating cat, which adds all the more humor to the sequence.

Cat's can sweat? In animation they CAN!!

Just because young audiences can connect with Miyazaki’s characters easier than older audiences doesn’t mean that only young people can enjoy his characters and their world of imagination.  True, a lot of Miyazaki’s films are focused for a younger audience, such as Kiki’s Delivery Service, which is very popular among the young female viewers.  However, it’s not to say that older viewers can’t enjoy his works.  Older people were once young people as well, sharing the perks and uncertainties of what imagination could bring.  Also, Miyazaki is ultimately the one pulling the strings of the characters and their imaginative worlds, so if older audiences don’t directly connect with the characters and story, then they should still indirectly be able to tie with the film as a whole.

In Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, the characters express their own imagination to various extents.  By developing a world of their own, they are able to take some part of Miyazaki’s imaginative world and make it theirs.  It’s almost like the characters are stealing some of the spotlight.  In doing so, Miyazaki is removed as a barrier, further increasing the bond between the characters and the audience.  Being involved with the characters’ imagination rather than Miyazaki’s heightens the experience of believability and the impact that the characters have on the viewers.  In Chihiro’s case, the relation of fear, in Satsuki and Mei’s case, the recollection of childhood times, and in Kiki’s case, the inclusion of humor to prevent a lonely adventure.  It is amazing what Miyazaki as a director and storyteller can achieve.  By allowing his characters the unsure vision of an imaginative world, he is able to put emphasis on the characters of the film rather than on his storytelling.  It’s almost as if the characters are the ones controlling the plot of the story; afterall, the films are based on their imagination!

Work Cited

Napier, Susan. “Matter Out of Place: Carnival, Containment, and Cultural Recovery in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.” 12 May 2010.

<http://www.ideonhosts.com/Miyazaki/Library/Spirited_Away/Napier-MatterOutOfPlace-Miyazaki-SpiritedAway.pdf>

Wikimedia Foundations, Inc. “Little Nemo.” 12 May 2010.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Nemo&gt;

Wick-Quoting #4: Kiki’s Delivery Service

Yet again, another young, little girl with short hair.  What is with this trend of young girls in Miyazaki’s films?  It seems as though Miyazaki has a fetish; but wait, this time, the girl has both parents, not only alive, but well too (unlike Miyazaki’s other popular work, My Neighbor Totoro).  This caught my attention as soon as Kiki’s mother mentions the father at the beginning of the film.  I thought that the radio was important to Kiki because maybe the father left it for her when he died, so I was really shocked to see she has a dad.

Father & Daughter

Miyazaki’s characters are always so independent, so I guess it is only natural to see Kiki fly off to another town on her own.  Even if it’s only for a year, I find it hard to imagine a 13 year old girl moving to a completely new area and taking care of herself.  The fact that Kiki is separated from her parents makes her similar to Miyazaki’s other heroines, who have to fend for themselves.  However, I must say that the inclusion of parents makes the film a much more reassuring and happy experience.  It definitely makes the film much more “child friendly,” despite the obvious complex issues.

Kiki’s problems allows for three benefits to happen throughout the film: 1) a break from mainstream views, 2) unique comedy, 3) and a bunch of “aww” moments.

1) Being an animated film, Kiki’s Delivery Service has plenty of opportunities to try out new concepts; and knowing Miyazaki, that’s pretty much expected.  It’s amazing how Miyazaki is able to easily create such worlds, where it doesn’t force viewers to question the legitimacy of the fantastic.  As you watch the film open, you generally just accept what Miyazaki throws at you.  In Nausicaa, it’s the ohmu, in Porco Rosso, it’s Marco’s pig-like appearance, and in Kiki’s Delivery Service, it’s Kiki’s ability to fly.  Acceptance of the wondrous is paralleled with the characters in the film, such as the townsfolk surprised, but relaxed reaction of Kiki flying down on a broomstick.

Unlike mainstream media, Kiki’s has many surprises.  In the scene with the dog and Jiji (the cat), a chase sequence is expected, especially because a cat-and-mouse chase scene is referenced.  However, the film goes beyond the expected behavior and displays a more mature side, as if foreshadowing Kiki’s development at the end.

What a nice dog..

2) Another aspect which is great about this film is the humor.  Thank goodness, Kiki’s does not contain immature toilet humor.  A scene like that would’ve totally ruined the flow of its sophisticated jokes.  Parents can rest assured, knowing that their children won’t rot from the typical G rated humor.

Humor is delicately scattered throughout the film, like markers of comic relief.  Jiji is an excellent comic indicator, as he spouts humorous phrases and reactions (esp towards the female cat, Lily).

Such blunt humor!!

3) Like Totoro, this film contains many parts of special bondage between the characters.  These usually come from the little gestures in the animation.  For example, the baker hiding when Kiki comes back from work and walking out nonchalantly, as if coming out coincidentally as Kiki arrives, is such a minor detail that viewers might miss.  But it tells a lot about the characters, such as the baker’s shy manner, his wanting to look cool, and his openness to Kiki’s hug for the sign that he makes for her business.  These little gestures make the film much more realistic and relatable towards the general audience.  Practically everyone experienced a time where they showed kindness for another.

What a sweet moment

It's the little moments that make you feel all gooey inside

Even so, Kiki’s is not just all flowers and butterflies.  What makes the film so enjoyable to a broad audience is all the different qualities packed into one.  If Kiki’s was to be a Mario Kart character, it would probably be Luigi – not the signature Miyazaki film (like Totoro), but still well-rounded in all sorts of different (film) elements.  At some points, it is a drama or fantasy, and at many others, a comedy.  At one point, it even seems like a racing film as Kiki and Tombo speed down the hill on the propeller-powered bicycle.

It looks like they’re gonna drift

Not only is the animation up-to-par (esp considering its age), the music reaches the typical Miyazaki film level.  Even though the music is not as recognizable as let’s say, Howl’s Moving Castle‘s is, it still goes along nicely with the story and setting.  And as always, Miyazaki skillfully places a silent scene at the climax, similar to many other of his films (Castle in the Sky/in the snake’s lair).  The silence only makes the film more exciting as it is followed by loud cheering.

With animation, practically any shot can be achieved, allowing for new, exciting angles

And the crowd goes wild!!

I must say, this is one of my favorite Miyazaki films (which includes Howl’s) mainly because it is one of the most feel good stories.  There is no real conflict like in Nausicaa, which leaves for an easy viewing.  Even though Jiji ends up not talking at the end, it’s still reassuring, because cats aren’t supposed to talk in the first place.  Also, Kiki becomes generally accepted in her new town and gains a close relationship with Tombo.  Jiji not being able to talk with Kiki also shows the maturity level that Kiki gains over the course of the film.

+ maturity = + assurance

Growth is seen in Kiki as she matures and is able to relate with her new friends, leaving her days of talking to her cat behind.  The film does show a valuable life lesson – even if you lose something important, another thing takes its place, making life more sporadic and enjoyable.  Maturity isn’t as bad as you think, as the film shows.

Kiki & Jiji reunite

Side Note: This film was released only 5 days after I was born!!

9.1


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