What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hayao Miyazaki's magical adventure is widely considered an animated masterpiece, but it can be a creepy and frightening experience for younger viewers. There are dozens of freaky looking creatures that threaten each other or the protagonist, who is trying to save her parents. Many, many scenes involve these strange beings, and younger children used to more sanitized characters may find them disturbing. One particularly scary scene involves a beloved character in the shape of a dragon who returns from a journey injured, bloody, and on the verge of death. One character smokes and in a dinner scene someone is offered sake. Older children ready for a more sophisticated animated tale will be mature enough to enjoy this story of a brave young female protagonist.
What's the story?
Chihiro is a sullen 10-year-old girl who wanders into a world ruled by witches and monsters, where humans are changed into animals. When her parents gorge themselves on enchanted food, they turn into pigs and Chihiro must overcome her whiny self in order to enter the spirit world and win them back. To do this, she must appeal to Yubaba, the scary old witch who runs the spirit bath-house. Chihiro is aided by Haku, Yubaba's right hand helper and our heroine's friend.
Is it any good?
Despite the animation similarities, SPIRITED AWAY is not Totoro, the beloved "feel-good" classic, but an edgy portrayal of what a young girl needs to do to grow up and take responsibility for more than herself. She fights Yubaba, she rescues Haku and aids a wounded spirit, triumphing where others do not because she is not sidetracked by greed.
This is a spectacularly beautiful movie, with excellent voice-overs by Davleigh Chase as Chihiro, Jason Marsden as Haku, Suzanne Pleshette as Yubaba, Michael Chiklis as Chihiro's father, Lauren Holly as Chihiro's mother, and John Ratzenberger as the Assistant Manager. John Lasseter of Toy Story fame directed the English voices. A thrilling movie, but not for little kids who get scared.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how this movie compares to the average American animated film. What's different? What's similar?
Can you think of other movies where the main character is a girl? Is there anything different about this girl compared to other movies about girls? Does this movie challege or reinforce any stereotypes?
|Theatrical release date:||April 20, 2002|
|DVD release date:||April 15, 2003|
|Cast:||Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette|
|Studio:||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Genre:||Family and Kids|
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires|
|Run time:||125 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||some scary supernatural scenes|