A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Porco Rosso is an animated fighter pilot-themed movie from renowned Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. It's packed with cartoonish violence including WWI-era airplane battles and machine gun fights. Characters smoke and drink and there is some romance and references to womanizing threaded through the plot. Underneath the deceptively simple story is a complex exploration of the ravages of war on those who fight.
What's the story?
PORCO ROSSO (voiced by Michael Keaton) was a WWI flying ace who became half-man, half-pig after his compatriots were killed in battle. He is now a jaded womanizing bounty hunter rescuing ships and babies from the attacks of bumbling pirates across the Adriatic Sea while ignoring the romantic overtures of the cocktail singer Gina (Susan Egan). When Porco's plane is shot down by Donald Curtis (Cary Elwes), a cocky American fighter pilot who joins forces with the pirates, and when the fascists take over Italy, Porco takes his plane to the mechanic, where Fio (Kimberley Williams-Paisley) fixes the plane and encourages Porco to fight Curtis for honor's sake.
Is it any good?
This is more than just beautiful anime portraying lots of cartoon violence between archetypal characters from war films bordering on stereotypes; it has a third dimension to it.
What is especially interesting about Porco Rosso is how, for all its parodic references to the flyboy films of WWII -- the sultry cocktail singer, the comedically cocky American fighter pilot, the spunky tomgirl who fixes airplanes, and even Porco himself as the anti-hero hero -- warfare and its consequences is critically examined. It is through Porco, who "quit being human" after seeing too much of the horrors of combat and now lives as a half-man half-pig sexist womanizer, that the audience experiences the deep hurt and depth of feeling of those who fight.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about heroism. What does it mean to be a hero? What are the ways Porco Rosso is and is not heroic? Who else is heroic?
What is the movie's message about how war affects places and people? What are the consequences of warfare for those who fight it? How is violence portrayed in this movie?
Are there any stereotypes in this movie? How are men and women represented differently?
- On DVD or streaming: February 22, 2005
- Cast: Cary Elwes, Greg Ellis, Michael Keaton
- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Pirates
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: violence and some mild language
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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