Kiki’s Delivery Service

Starring:
Kirsten Dunst as Kiki
Matthew Lawrence as Tombo
Janeane Garofalo as Ursula
Phil Hartman as Jiji
Tress MacNeille as Osono
Edie McClurg as Barsa
Debbie Reynolds as Madame
Jeff Bennett as Kiki’s Father

Special Features:
Kiki’s Delivery Service Introduction by John Lassiter
Complete Storyboards
Behind the Microphone with Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman
Original Japanese Trailers

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Original Japanese Language Track
French Language Track
Running Time: 105 Minutes

Synopsis:
Kiki is a 13-year-old witch who is about to go out into the world on her own. With her talking black cat Jiji, she searches for a new city to live in. She eventually finds a city that suits her and begins looking for a home and a job. Kiki ends up living and working at a bakery owned by Osono, a very pregnant woman. On the side, Kiki begins using her powers of flight to start a delivery service. Thus begins Kiki and Jiji’s misadventures delivering packages all over the city. She meets a wide variety of interesting characters, a young boy named Tombo who is smitten with her, and a number of girls her own age who are snobs. But Kiki’s greatest challenge comes when she begins to lose her witch powers.

“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is rated G.

The Movie:
In order to cash in on the popularity of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”, Walt Disney Pictures has also released his earlier film “Kiki’s Delivery Service” on DVD. While “Spirited Away” was dark, edgy, and fanciful, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a fairly lighthearted adventure that is a lot more accessible to American audiences. The best thing to compare it to is Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. There are a lot of similarities between the two. Both have young, headstrong teenage witch girls. Both have talking cats. Both are fairly humorous and lighthearted. If you like Sabrina, you’ll like Kiki.

Out of the three Miyazaki movies Disney has recently released, I think “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is my least favorite. That’s not to say it isn’t good, but I liked the others better. Kiki lacks the action and adventure of “Castle In The Sky”. It also lacks the imagination and art of “Spirited Away”. While I was bored through most of the film, I think little kids will enjoy it a lot more than the other two. The story is a lot more accessible to kids, especially little girls.

I did like the humor featured in “Kiki’s Delivery Service”. Phil Hartman as the black cat delivers most of the comedy. His overreaction to everything and generally cat-like behavior makes him one of the more entertaining characters. I also enjoyed the tense rescue scene at the end of the movie. It was very reminiscent of the big rescue scene in Superman or The Rocketeer. That scene kind of saved the movie for me.

This English dub was originally recorded in 1998. It was one of Phil Hartman’s last performances. It’s good to see his work get more attention again with this re-release. Kirsten Dunst is perfectly cast as the bubbly and headstrong Kiki. She was a bit younger when she did this film, but you could see her talent even then. Matthew Lawrence, Janeane Garofalo, Tress MacNeille, and Debbie Reynolds round out the excellent voiceover cast.

The Extras:
This DVD doesn’t have as many extras as “Spirited Away”, but the fact that this movie was from 1989 makes it understandable.

Kiki’s Delivery Service Introduction by John Lassiter – Just like on the other Disney / Miyazaki DVD’s, this is just a brief introduction to the movie by Pixar’s John Lassiter. He sings the praises of Hayao Miyazaki, says how great the movie is, and not much more. It’s mainly another obstacle to jump before the movie starts.

Complete Storyboards – On the second disc, you can watch the entire movie in storyboard form. It is viewable in the Japanese or English version. I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to do this, but you can if you want to.

Behind the Microphone with Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman – This is a short Disney feature on the English dubbing of the movie. Originally dubbed in 1998, it features a younger Kirsten Dunst excitedly talking about Kiki. Phil Hartman also appears in the documentary talking about voicing the cat and what it was like adding voices to an already animated film. Matthew Lawrence and Janeane Garofalo also make appearances in this brief feature.

Original Japanese Trailers – The trailers in Japan are very different from those in the US and this is a great example of it. They’re fun to watch.

The Bottom Line:
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is lighthearted animated entertainment that I think children will enjoy more than adults. However, if you discover that you’re a fan of Miyazaki’s work after viewing “Spirited Away”, you may want to check this out.

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