Over the last week I was able to see Studio Ghibli's When Marnie was there and Pixar's Inside Out and because of that I'm doing a double review today! When Marnie Was There is very consistent with Ghibli's visual style. I really admired the scenes where the characters were painting and drawing. I always enjoy when cartoon characters engage in these activities. Also the way the handled the abundance of food was just the quality that Ghibli always delivers. They are really attentive when it comes to these kind of details. As for the specific art style I felt Hiromasa Yonebayashi played it very safe, thus making the film less expressive as it could have been.
Anna (the main character) is a grief stricken, socially awkward, 12 year old tomboy. After an asthma attack at school her foster parents follow a doctor's instructions and send her to stay with a family friend for the summer in the countryside for some fresh air. During this stay she becomes very consumed with an abandoned mansion across a seaside marsh. Over the course of the movie she goes back and forth between seeing new the mansion abandoned and in good shape and well lit. One night she takes it open herself to venture to the mansion when it's lit and meets a little girl named Marnie. From this point forward the movie started getting a little odd to me. Ghibli always straddles the lines of platonic romance and I was wondering just how far they were going to go with Anna and Marnie. The story kept growing and was being layered in a way that I felt hindered the actual story telling of the film. Towards the end they introduced a character that tied everything together solving ever story arch in a short story of their own. That was a bit disappointing.
I had high expectations for this movie being that I was so impressed with The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (even though I didn't review it). I know Ghibli films that are not Miyazaki's own are more than capable to uphold the studio's legacy however When Marnie was there just missed the bar to me.
Now when does Pixar ever disappoint with the look and appeal of their movies? Granted they can definitely explore and add a bit more variety (heck even more diversity for that matter) to their human characters. However, as far as all other types of characters and environments they have always hit the nail on the head and then some. In the most simplest way, Inside Out is about the 5 basic emotions we all have and experience and how the main character, an 11 year old girl named Riley, navigates moving from her small town to a new city. Majority of the movie is in her mind where her two emotions Joy and Sadness unintentionally leave headquarters and spend the entire movie trying to get back. This movie gets relatively complicated very quickly and they had to introduce a lot characters and mini stories for things to make sense, it was almost too much. The character development was predictable, Joy realizes that Sadness is a very important emotion to ensure that Riley is having complete experience and Sadness finally feels included. Nothing unexpected there.
Though I feel that the concept was pleasing and the execution was pretty solid, overall I do not think this is one of Pixar's strongest movies. It has many entertaining moments but I'm waiting for Pixar to knock me off my feet again like they did with Wall-E and The Incredibles.