Ponyo (2009)

Entertainment Rating: 3/5

I remembered hearing the name of this movie quite a bit around Oscar season and had a small desire to see what it was all about. However, I’ve never really watched any anime films and the premise to this one didn’t sound terribly intriguing: a fish wants to become human (pretty much based on H.C. Andersen’s Little Mermaid). Our kids enjoyed the movie and I almost did. The musical score for the film was excellent and the story did turn out to be interesting enough, but it didn’t really conclude anything. We were left with more questions than answers. (Voices by Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Betty White, Frankie Jonas, Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus)

Orson Scott Card gives examples of some of these unanswered questions:
What did the ocean's attack on the shore accomplish? How did a little boy's promise resolve the conflict between humans and the life of the sea? Who are the little fish-girl's parents and what are they trying to accomplish? What are the rules of the magic in this imagined universe?

Moral Rating: 3/5

Sosuke is able to love Ponyo whether she remains human or is turned back into a fish. Sosuke’s family relationship also provides us with some important insights. Their life is not very easy without a father at home; Lisa, Sosuke’s mother, needs her husband’s help and support with taking care of the house and Sosuke; and Sosuke needs a father around to give him a role model to look up to while he’s growing up. The scene with them communicating via light signals was a particularly touching one, very realistic.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sums up the moral messages in the movie quite concisely:
...the underlying moral messages, such as the repeated admonition to judge by substance rather than appearance and a deftly delivered warning against environmental carelessness, are universal.

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