|Electra (starlady) wrote,|
@ 2012-02-22 10:24 am UTC
|Entry tags:||sequential art: anime|
This movie is so bad. The English dub is awful, the underlying movie is terrible, this movie is bad. I have seen almost every movie Studio Ghibli has made, and this has to be the worst.
There, I said it. I cannot understand how this thing had a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes! I cannot understand how it is an NYT Critics' Pick! It is a bad movie. I went with four of my friends, and all five of us independently considered (and rejected) walking out during the first third, except for my one friend who just fell asleep, because the movie is not good.
No, okay, I can be rational about this, I swear. The movie is based on Mary Norton's The Borrowers, and it was written and planned by Miyazaki Hayao himself, so it's not like it's totally without pedigree. Sickly child "Sean" goes to stay at the house of his aunt "Jessica" in the countryside of western Tokyo before his heart operation, and there he discovers the borrower Arrietty and her family living in secret inside his house. "Sean" is more or less a moron (or, to be more fair, a privileged idiot), so he manages to screw up the lives of Arrietty and her family but good in trying to "help" and "protect" them (why he thinks they need his help and protection? Because they're smaller and weaker than he is, obviously!), no thanks to the inexplicably evil creeper housekeeper Hara.
As you may have guessed from my liberal use of quote marks in the above, the English dub (directed by Gary Rydstrom) is ham-handed at best and flat-out terrible at worst. None of the characters are well done by in their translated dialogue, and whoever wrote it has a lead ear, because the dialogue is just terrible. Even worse, Disney apparently couldn't be bothered to shell out the big bucks for people who can actually voice-act this time around, so almost everyone delivers their lines in a monotone or without much affect. Combined with the ridiculous dialogue, we were cracking up at how bad it was by the halfway point, after we started being appalled enough to realize that we could laugh.
So, the dub is terrible, but the movie itself is not good either. There is no plot for the first third or so, and what plot that emerges is inexplicable and boringly predictable. Characters (Hara) have no explicable motivation for their actions, and all in all it really just feels like Ghibli is phoning it in--Hara is cribbed off Yubaba in Spirited Away, Arrietty's future husband the caveman borrower is cribbed off Ashitaka in Mononoke, and Arrietty herself is a generic retread of every other Ghibli heroine ever, without the benefit of a personality or, again, discernible motivations to explain her behaviour. I liked the cat best of all in the end, partly because the cat looks just like the Cat Bus. You thought I was joking about this movie being auto-derivative.
Ugh. We did get some good laughs out of how bad it was in the end, at least.
Massive disclaimer: Obviously I saw the U.S. version. It may well be that the U.K. version isn't atrocious! In which case, I am jealous, though as I said, I don't think even a stellar dub could rescue the movie from its underlying problems.