Why It Made the List:
It’s pretty hard to describe the plot of Ponyo in a way that makes any sort of sense. If you boil it down, it’s about a sentient goldfish/sea creature that, upon tasting human blood (Yes. Seriously.), decides to become human and develops a taste for ham. It sounds absolutely insane, and it is, but in the best sort of way. It makes zero sense whatsoever while making perfect sense the whole time – it makes kid sense. You know, kid sense? When you would just watch things and immediately accept it as the truth? That’s what master animator Hayao Miyazaki is working with here. Miyazaki’s 10th film, Ponyo serves out amazing water color artwork and an utterly magical world with an ease and mastery that even Pixar can’t touch (yet). Yes, Pixar has been delving into some deep themes, but Miyazaki is able to create a beautifully magical moment out of one of the most destructive forces of nature. Even though the images from the tsumani in Thailand and flooded New Orleans crowd our mind, they are (quite literally) washed away as we see the magic in these hand drawn waves. It’s bizarre, and odd, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It, along with every other film in his filmography, is an absolute treasure.
It also has an end credit song that is absolute crack. It will get stuck in your head for *days*. Whether you want it to, or not.
Is it cheating to list the whole film? Yes? Ok. I’ll pick the boat scene where Ponyo and Sosuke float over a flooded town, while incredible sea creatures swim underneath them.
8) What’s Your Raashee? (What’s Your Sign?)
Coming in at number 8 for me is kind of a cheat cheat. This movie never opened in U.S. theaters, but was released on DVD. Or at least is available on Netflix. The Bollywood film “What’s Your Raashee?” stars Harman Baweja, Priyanka Chopra, and Manju Singh. Yogesh is an Indian (like…from India, not Native American) who is going to school and working in Chicago. His family is still living in India, and his brother has gotten himself into serious financial trouble with both a pyramid scheme and the Indian Mob. His only hope of getting out is the inheritance Yogesh will receive from their grandfather when he gets married. When the family has Yogesh’s star chart read, they find out he is predicted to be married on the 20th of that month. They lure him back to India under false pretenses and he decides to honor his family’s wishes and get married. Unfortunately, the ad he places draws so many responses that he decides to only see one woman from each astrological sign and chose from them which one he will marry. Priyanka Chopra plays every different girl he sees, which broke the world record for the most characters played in a single film.
I usually enjoy Bollywood films. They like to end happily, I love the mixture between Hindi and English spoken, and there is always a great song and/or dance number. This film incorporates most of the elements of a good clean Western romantic comedy with all the elements I love from the Bollywood style without compromising it’s nature. Yogesh is very sweet and is a refreshing change from the usual male romantic leads you come across. And the former Miss World, Priyanka Chopra, really displays her ability to act as she plays 12 different women. If you weren’t told so, it would be pretty tough to tell that each girl is the same actress. This IS a long movie, coming in at over 2 hours with an intermission, but you get lots of humor, great Bollywood dance numbers, and a lovely storyline.
8) Year One
At the bottom, we have “Year One” starring Jack Black and Michael Cera. We follow two hunter-gatherer tribesmen who have been booted from their tribe named Zed and Oh who try to make it on their own. They run into several Biblical figures, primarily Cain – who murders Abel right in front of them, and ultimately they end up in Sodom. Believing himself to be a chosen leader, Zed aligns himself with the princess as they try to free their former tribeswomen from slavery and the kingdom from a selfish and oppressive religion.
I think if you’ve seen this movie, it’s pretty obvious why it’s down at the bottom of the list. It’s insulting humor, for one point. I’m not a big lover of stupid humor movies unless it’s something that’s become a classic such as “Dumb and Dumber.” And while I sometimes enjoy Jack Black, he is way over the top in a bad way in this film. Michael Cera plays the same kind of character he always does (this kid could be George Michael Bluth’s ancient ancestor) and is nothing interesting. But probably the final nail in this coffin was their obvious disrespect for Biblical stories and their blatant attempts to make things such as the fall of man, the Jewish faith, the first murder, and the depravity of humanity something to laugh at. I guess some people could say I should just lighten up, but when an entire movie is centered around making a mockery of my faith, I just don’t dig it. Fail.