Kiki's Delivery Service
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hayao Miyazaki's classic anime adventure is an ideal film for the entire family. Unlike some of his other movies that feature some potentially frightening characters or disturbing scenes, this film is a sweet coming-of-age adventure. Kiki, the 13-year-old protagonist, is a lovely role model. Yes, she's a witch, but she's a good one who doesn't manifest her magical powers in any way but flying. There's some mild flirting and a couple of close calls while Kiki's in the air, but otherwise this is a positive pick that could be a family classic.
What's the story?
Kiki (voiced by Kirsten Dunst) follows family tradition and settles for a year in a foreign city to serve as resident witch. She makes friends, finds room and board, and uses her broom-flying ability to launch a delivery service. A boy her age, the aviation buff Tombo (Matthew Laurence), develops a crush on her. As she approaches puberty, Kiki begins to lose her powers. She strikes up a chance friendship with an older girl, the artist Ursula (Janeane Garofalo), who helps Kiki weather her loss of confidence. When a dirigible accident puts Tombo in danger, Kiki must summon up all of her powers to save her friend.
Is it any good?
A huge box office hit in Japan, KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is the first film by celebrated animator Hayao Miyazaki to become available in the U.S.; it's part of a deal struck between Disney and Miyazaki's studio. Kiki is set in a large European metropolis (an amalgam of Stockholm and other cities) in a time period suggesting the 1950s. The attention to detail, particularly in the scenes of Kiki flying over the city streets, rivals that of many a bigger-budgeted Disney feature. Such detail provides important background as small-town girl Kiki gradually acclimates herself to this new, bewildering environment. The film also realistically treats Kiki's growing pains, as she copes with the twin problems of independence and peer group relations. This accounts, in part, for the film's enthusiastic reception by so many young viewers.
This English-dubbed version, released straight-to-video, benefits from well-cast celebrity voices, including Phil Hartman (as Kiki's wisecracking black cat Jiji) and Debbie Reynolds. The Disney version's only serious flaw is the replacement of the Japanese original's delightful opening and closing songs with new, less catchy English-language ones.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Kiki's character. How does she compare to other characters in animated movies? Do you think she's a role model?
What foreign movies have you seen? How do foreign movies compare to those made in Hollywood?
What makes a good family movie? What kinds of movies do kids and parents enjoy watching together?
What kinds of messages about growing up does this movie send? Can kids relate to Kiki's loss of confidence? What helps her gain back her strength?