My Neighbor Totoro

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Rating: G

Starring:
Dakota Fanning as Satsuki
Elle Fanning as Mei
Pat Carroll as Grandmother
Timothy Daly as Satsuki & Mei’s Dad
Katelin Petersen as Girl/Additional Voices
Evan Sabara as Boy/Additional Voices
Lea Salonga as Satsuki & Mei’s Mom
Frank Welker as Totoro/Cat Bus

Special Features:
Behind the Microphone with Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning

Complete Storyboards — Get an Insider’s Look at the Film’s Artistry

Original Japanese Trailer

Opening and Closing Animation (Without Credits)

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital Surround Sound
Japanese and French Language
Running Time: 86 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in Japan in 1988. The following text is from the DVD cover:

“Critically acclaimed as one of the most delightful and charming family films ever, My Neighbor Totoro is a stunning animated treat full of magical adventure from Hayao Miyazaki. Follow the adventures of Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei when they move into a new home in the countryside. To their delight, they discover that their new neighbor is a mysterious forest spirit called Totoro, who can be seen only through the eyes of a child. Totoro introduces them to extraordinary characters — including a cat that doubles as a bus! — and takes them on an incredible journey. Full of wonder and heart, this spectacular 2-disc set features the voice talents of Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning. My Neighbor Totoro is a magical experience for the whole family!”

My Neighbor Totoro is rated G.

The Movie:
My family and I had a little bit of a Hayao Miyazaki film festival when this and Howl’s Moving Castle arrived. Since this film was from 1988 and was one of Miyazaki’s signature films, I was eager to check it out along with my kids. I sat them down in front of it and they enjoyed it quite a bit. My daughter loved the little girls, the furry little creatures, Totoro, and the Cat Bus. She was totally entranced by it. Her reaction alone made it a worthy addition to my collection.

Despite my kids love for it, I wasn’t as thrilled by My Neighbor Totoro. I didn’t feel like the story really went anywhere, I felt Totoro wasn’t a terribly engaging character, and the pacing of the film was rather slow. That being said, there was still a lot I did like about it. I loved the interaction between the girls, dubbed in the English version by Dakota and Elle Fanning. The way the younger girl imitated the older, their fascination with the spirits, and their enthusiastic nature really captivated me. I also loved the scenes where the girls first explored the “haunted” house. The Cat Bus was pretty cool, too. (I thought it was a bit odd that it was sporting a cat scrotum, but that’s another story.)

As usual, the animation is also superb. Notable scenes include the Cat Bus’ first appearance, the children dancing to make some trees grow, and other cool moments. It’s arguably the best animation in the world just like in all the other Miyazaki films. Overall, though, My Neighbor Totoro wasn’t the best Miyzaki film that I had ever seen, but it was certainly a memorable one.

The Extras:
Like the other Disney DVDs featuring animation by Hayao Miyazaki, this one contains a featurette detailing the English dub of the film, a storyboard version of the movie, and a trailer. Also included is the animation from the opening and closing credits without the text over it.

The Bottom Line:
Kids will enjoy My Neighbor Totoro thanks to the magical creatures and cute sisters. Adults will appreciate it for the beautiful animation and fantastic story. While it’s not the best Miyazaki film, it’s still entertaining.

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