Any week that I get to talk about a movie from Hayao Miyazaki is a great week!
A lot of family fare this week,
Santa Buddies (2009, Robert Vince, Canada/United States Of America) 1/2*
This was for the little girl in my life. This was also very bad, unlike the majority of the family movies I have watched with her. It looks bad, I guess it’s cute, but yeah, next please.
The Search For Santa Paws (2010, Robert Vince, Canada) **
Far better than Santa Buddies, this falls in line with decent, but not good family movies category, containing such films as Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It’s still made in a pretty barren fashion, but unlike Santa Buddies it doesn’t rely on green screen at every single moment, and that really helps the film. I do get a kick out of playing the “spot the actor” game in these movies, this one had a bunch I was happy to see, like Officer Clementine Johnson from Reno 911!. Either way, it’s very forgettable yes, but kids will love it and it’s a decent flick in its own right.
How To Train Your Dragon (2010, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders, United States Of America) ***1/2
A lot of fun, and really inventive to boot. It moves along at a brisk pace, and its humor is smart, this isn’t a film that talks down to its audience. The characters are fun to get to know, the final battle is done really well, and the animation throughout is wonderful. Especially the scenes where they are in flight, those scenes are something special. It did bug me that the parents and children had completely different accents, but that was pretty much my only complaint in an otherwise charming and engaging film.
Tonari No Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro, 1988, Hayao Miyazaki, Japan) ****
Watched this with my girlfriend and her daughter for the first time. They both loved it, my girlfriend’s daughter even said she wants to go to sleep every night watching Tonari No Totoro, so yeah, it remains awesome.
Koneko Monogatari (The Adventures Of Milo & Otis, 1986, Masanori Hata, Japan) ***
A very simple film, but it’s all about being cute, and this is cute as a movie can be. It’s literally sequence after sequence of cuteness. That’s really all the film has going for it, well that and a very slight message about the power of everlasting friendship. But, it’s mainly cute, and it’s great at being cute.
It’s kind of mean for me to place any movies up against a film from Miyazaki-san. But, that’s what I did this week and that’s why it shouldn’t surprise everyone that Tonari No Totoro takes home retro movie of the week honors. I’ll be back next week with five more retro capsule reviews!