Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Porco Rosso

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG

Starring:
Michael Keaton as Porco Rosso
Kimberly Williams as Fio
Susan Egan as Gina
Cary Elwes as Curtis
Brad Garrett as Mamma Aiuto Boss
David Ogden Stiers as Grandpa Piccolo
Jeff Bennett as Additional Voices
Debi Derryberry as Additional Voices
Bill Fagerbakke as Mamma Aiuto Gang
Tom Kenny as Additional Voices
Sherry Lynn as Additional Voices
Tress MacNeille as Additional Voices
Rob Paulsen as Additional Voices
Kevin Michael Richardson as Mamma Aiuto Gang
Frank Welker as Mamma Aiuto Gang

Special Features:
Behind The Microphone With Voice Talent From The Film: Michael Keaton, Brad Garrett, Kimberly Williams, Susan Egan, And David Ogden Stiers

Complete Storyboards -- Get An Insider's Look At The Film's Artistry

Original Japanese Trailers

Interview With Producer Toshio Suzuki

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
Japanese and French Language
Running Time: 93 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in Japan by Hayao Miyazaki in 1992 and was re-dubbed by Disney in 2003. The following is from the DVD cover:

"Take flight with "Porco Rosso," a valiant World War I flying ace! From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure from world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki is full of humor, courage, and chivalry. When "Porco" -- whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell -- infuriates a band of sky pirates with his aerial heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a rival pilot, to "get rid" of him. On the ground, the two pilots compete for the affections of the beautiful Gina. But it is in the air where the true battles are waged. Will our hero be victorious? Featuring extraordinary voice talents, this 2-disc set is a thrilling ride you'll never forget!"

Porco Rosso is rated PG for violence and some mild language.

The Movie:
I have to admit that I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Porco Rosso. The DVD cover didn't give that much of a clue about it and I wasn't totally sold on a movie about a pig adventurer. However, the film ended up being quite a bit of fun and my kids and I all enjoyed it. It had action, humor, and even romance. There was something for everyone.

The most notable thing about the movie (besides the pig) was the humor. It starts off with a group of pirates kidnapping a group of enthusiastic young schoolgirls. They give the pirates a very hard time until Porco Rosso comes to save the day. That scene immediately sets the tone for the rest of this adventure-comedy. Porco's surly attitude, more bumbling pirates, and a perky female mechanic help keep the laughs going.

The second noteworthy thing about Porco Rosso is the action. The pig gets into a number of dogfights that are quite exciting. A showdown with another ace pilot is one of the highlights of the film. Another scene shows our heroes flying through the canals of Milan trying to elude the Italian authorities. It's quite a harrowing chase. Hayao Miyazaki's films always have an incredible sense of speed and flight and Porco Rosso is no exception.

The voice cast is superb. Michael Keaton is excellent as Porco Rosso. He's tough, surly, and a fighter ace. He's kind of like Indiana Jones and Rick Blaine from Casablanca rolled into one. Kimberly Williams (from Father of the Bride) is fun as Fio. Her spirit and enthusiasm is a great contrast to Porco. Susan Egan (from the Beauty and the Beast stage play) is sexy as Gina and she makes a good love interest for the pig. Cary Elwes plays Curtis, a brash American. Meanwhile, Brad Garrett seems to be channeling Bluto as Mamma Aiuto Boss. Finally, David Ogden Stiers rounds out the main cast as Grandpa Piccolo.

Like all of Hayao Miyazaki's other films, the animation is quite beautiful. They have done some wonderful backgrounds for the Adriatic Sea. The planes are also imaginative. One particularly striking scene shows ghosts of dead pilots floating through the sky like dandelion seeds. It was certainly memorable.

If you like adventure films, animation, or even Michael Keaton, then I think you'll thoroughly enjoy Porco Rosso. It's certainly weird to have your main hero be a talking pig (and there doesn't seem to be any good reason for it in the story), but it's still a fun and unique adventure comedy.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD:

Behind The Microphone – Like on all the other recently released Hayao Miyazaki films, this one features a brief video on the American redubbing of the movie. They show interviews with Michael Keaton, Brad Garrett, Kimberly Williams, Susan Egan, and David Ogden Stiers. Just like on all the other videos, the actors seem genuinely excited about playing roles in this animated feature.

Complete Storyboards – The second disc features the entire film in storyboard format. Again, I don't know anyone who would want to see the entire film like this other than animation enthusiasts.

Original Japanese Trailers – If you want to see something REALLY different, check out how the Japanese promote their films.

Interview With Producer Toshio Suzuki – This is an in-depth interview with the producer of Miyazaki's films. It's a piece from Japanese television and is quite interesting. If you're a Miyazaki fan, you'll enjoy this.

The Bottom Line:
Despite the bizarre concept, Porco Rosso is a fun adventure comedy. With action, humor, and romance, it has something for both kids and adults.

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