RV: Hayao Miyazaki is one of the greatest directors of all time. That’s a fact that no movie buff can deny, and if you try, I’ll just show you clip after clip of Disney/Pixar’s Chief John Lasseter going on endlessly about how influential Miyazaki was on his own work at Pixar, which is huge knowing the absolute love critics and American audiences have for the work of Jon Lasseter and Pixar. Most critics view Pixar as being the standard bearer for how any film studio should operate to the point that they are reviewed with a scale of expectations that are well beyond what Dreamworks or Sony Animation has to deal with. But even with all of that adoration and respect from critics, the fact is Lasseter and Pixar are still in the shadow of Miyazaki, who set an impassable bar for animation studios well before even Toy Story’s release. Year after year since the 80s, Miyazaki and his studio released classic after classic in Japan that American audiences (thanks to Lasseter) are just now discovering. Hidden among all of those Miyazaki gems is Porco Rosso, his most underrated yet best film. Porco Rosso is the story of a rogue pilot that was cursed to look like a pig. Any other film would have fucked that detail right up by making it the center of the movie, but Miyazaki takes this character defining trait and handles it so deftly that the curse soon resides in the background serving instead as a clever symbol and metaphor of how Porco views himself. But is he actually a pig? This movie is an example of the surreal should be handled. Taking a very believable story and giving a very human flaw in all of us a chance to take center stage in a way that is beyond the real but yet feels right. Porco Rosso’s theme is powerful, the art is beautiful, and the story is real. At the end, you will find yourself not only rooting for the pig, but you will realize that he is one of the realist characters that have ever appeared in film.
T: Gosh, RV – you’ve basically stolen everything that could be written about this movie. What do you expect me to add?
Okay, so I’m not going to lecture at you like RV above, but I will say that, without a profound understanding of Japanese anime or Miyazaki, this film is unlike any other. Stunningly beautiful with a very human flair, this one will keep you captivated from beginning to end. I always love a good anti-hero and Porco takes the cake on all things obnoxious yet charming. There is clearly some very deep themes related to guilt, forgiveness, pacifism, and tolerance presented here, but Miyazaki is able to take age-old ideas and present them in a very modern, imaginative way.
5 Red Vines: This film delivers the bacon.
4 Twizzlers: This little piggy went to the movies and came back happy.