Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Miyazaki's stunning adventure is geared to younger kids.

Movie G 2009 103 minutes
Ponyo Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 5+

Based on 99 parent reviews

age 4+

Not Miyazaki's best...but it's still pretty good!

I am a big Miyazaki fan and this film is beautiful and full of whimsy, but there are a few big flaws that I found a bit difficult to overcome. The main one being that it is implied that Sosuke has to decide at 5 years old if he is going to love Ponyo forever or not...seems a bit much. Then of course that Ponyo's desire to be human becomes tethered to Sosuke and his love for her at 5 years old. It was a bit fantastical and cliche. The independence of children surrounded by supporting (or absent) adults seemed to be Miyazaki's films strengths and was a bit sorry that it took such a patriarchal "Little Mermaid" turn. On the other hand, my 4 year old LOVED it although he was visibly upset whenever Ponyo was manhandled or it appeared there was real wave danger.
age 3+

Second favorite after Totoro for our 3yo

In the search for movies my husband and I actually enjoy watching that are also appropriate for our three year old, this is our second favorite after Totoro. There are scenes that were a little scary for our sensitive 3yo: the rainstorm scene was tense, he was a little worried about the boy's mom when the boy couldn't find her (we see she's fine a couple minutes later), and the dad is quirky and a little scary in his overbearing concern in the beginning. But these fears were easily calmed by just pausing and talking about how it will all work out. I love that there are no evil characters and no violence (making it infinitely more appropriate than anything by Disney). It's also particularly beautiful, even by Miyazaki's standards. Is it weird that it ends in two five year old's having an almost faux-wedding? Yes. However, I have to disagree that it's sexist - in fact the father doesn't give her over - Ponyo's mother is the one to give consent and is all-around clearly the more powerful and influential person in the relationship. Finally, though the boy is told to kiss the bubble to make Ponyo a human, Ponyo herself initiates the kiss - she is clearly in charge of her own fate, both at the end and throughout the whole film.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (99 ):
Kids say (118 ):

This is a classic Miyazaki film, from the enchanting anime style to the recurring theme of humanity's relationship with nature.. And, once again, Ponyo features several unmistakably strong female characters: Ponyo is quite literally a force of nature, and her mother the ocean queen (Yūki Amami/Cate Blanchett) is even more powerful. Plus there's Sosuke's mom and the trio of women she tends to (Tokie Hidari/Cloris Leachman, Tomoko Naraoka/Betty White, and Kazuko Yoshiyuki/Lily Tomlin) at a nursing home, who form a sort of chorus for the film. And there is, at the heart of the Ponyo (and every Miyazaki story), a hero's journey.

Ponyo is just like a real 5-year-old girl -- in awe of the world, adventurous, hilarious. Sosuke, on the other hand, is wise beyond his years, courageous, responsible, and loving. Those who dive in to Miyazaki's world will be rewarded with a humorous, touching fable that will leave young children wide-eyed, although possibly demanding ham (you'll see!).

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