Every once in a while, the stars align and Japan manages to send one of its animated movies over to America to play in our theaters. More often than not, it’s a Studio Ghibli film, but this should come as no surprise since Studio Ghibli is awesome and pretty much everyone hails them as the Japanese version of Disney.
Just recently I learned that the studio’s latest work, From Up on Poppy Hill, will also be making it abroad. But how does it stack up to what we’ve come to expect from Studio Ghibli? How is Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro, handling being a director? Is it a good thing that these movies make it outside Japan? Let’s find out.
From Up on Poppy Hill
Set in Japan of the 1960s, Poppy Hill tells the story of a high school girl living in a boarding house. She meets a guy from the school’s newspaper club and they decide to renovate the school’s clubhouse to prevent it from being torn down. That’s the big story, but there’s also some family confusion as well as some goofy romance going on, but I don’t want to spoil anything.
Overall, the story is pretty bland and totally unexciting. I know the whole theme is supposed to be about knowing what to hold onto from the past and what to let go of and how to move forward and blah blah blah whatever, but you don’t need a whole hour and a half to get that message across. This movie made me sleepy.
Anyway, I thought this movie was terrible. I’m sorry. It was just so incredibly slow and boring. I didn’t identify with any of the characters and I just couldn’t make myself really care about anything that was going on. The animation was fine, and I enjoyed the music, but I think I would have enjoyed the music a lot more if they made Imaginary Flying Machines covers for all of the tracks.
I think I’ve decided what I’m going to blame this movie being bad on. Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro. While Hayao was involved in this film’s screenplay, Goro was the director. Goro directed one other film so far, Tales from Earthsea, and even Hayao thought that movie was terrible. Well, probably. Here’s a quote from Cracked.com on the matter.
Instead of retiring his name on a high note, director Hayao Miyazaki passed the torch to his son, Goro, who has stepped up with all the competency of a child conducting a board meeting at “bring your developmentally challenged son to work” day.
Goro, Goro, Goro…
I sincerely hope that Goro and crew get their act together. I can’t say exactly how much of this all is Goro’s fault, but whatever the deal is, I hope they get it sorted sooner than later. Especially if they’re sending these films over to America. They should be sending the cream of the crop, stuff like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away! Y’know, the good stuff!
I mean, we’ve written about Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki before, and I’ve had nothing but good things to say about them. Some films were better than others, but even the ones I didn’t really enjoy I could understand why others might like them. From Up on Poppy Hill is not one of those movies. I can’t even imagine the pain I would experience from watching Tales from Earthsea, both physical and emotional.
“What is that son of mine doing? He’ll never be as good as me! Oh ho ho~”
Let’s just hope that Goro is finding his footing. Poppy Hill might be better than Earthsea, but not by much. Maybe Hayao will smack him around a bit and knock some sense into the boy. The last thing we want is Goro tarnishing the Miyazaki name, and so far he’s heading down that dark and dreary road.
Is it Good that Poppy Hill is Coming to America?
Well, it’s good but it’s also bad. Poppy Hill is being brought over by a group called GKIDS internationally and StudioCanal in the UK. I think this also says a lot about the quality of the film.
The good Studio Ghibli films that made it abroad that people remember (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo) were all distributed by Disney. Disney made the mistake of picking up Tales from Earthsea and by the looks of it, they learned their lesson. Apparently Disney didn’t want anything to do with Poppy Hill. After seeing the movie myself, I do not blame them at all.
The good thing about this being released internationally is that I think it’s always good when Japan gets some international acclaim and people have a chance to experience these movies that they might not have otherwise been able to. Especially when it comes on the big screen because that’s an experience you just cannot recreate at home.
“Here, eat this to get rid of the bad taste Poppy Hill left in your mouth.”
However, this movie is so bad that it’s not going to get people excited to bring other movies by Goro/Ghibli out for the world to see. But I mean, hey, I’m just one guy – maybe everyone else will love the movie. Great. But I really doubt it.
And for those brave souls interested, here’s where Poppy Hill is going to be released initially in America.
- New York – FC Center
- New York – Film Society of Lincoln Center
- Los Angeles – The Landmark
- Chicago – Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema
- San Francisco – Embarcadero Center Cinema
- Palo Alto – CineArts @ Palo Alto Square
- Berkeley – Shattuck Cinemas
- Boston – Kendall Square Cinema
- Seattle – Harvard Exit Theatre
- Minneapolis – Uptown Theater
- San Diego – Landmark’s Hillcrest Cinemas
- Long Island – Cinema Arts Centre
So tell me, have you seen Tales from Earthsea or From Up on Poppy Hill? Do you want to? What do you think about how Goro is handling things? Share your thoughts in the comments!