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Porco Rosso (1992)

Cast: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Kimberly Williams, more...
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
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Rating:
Studio: Disney
Genre: Anime, Foreign, Animation, Cel, Studios, Ghibli

Synopsis
Master animator Hayao Miyazaki directs this tale about a former World War I flying ace who is also a pig. Slouching towards middle age, Porco Rosso makes his living by flying about in his bright red bi-plane and fighting sky bandits who prey on cruise ships sailing the Adriatic. When he's not engaging in dogfights, this porcine pilot lives on a deserted island retreat. Porco Rosso was once a strapping young man, but after his entire squadron was wiped out, he is mysteriously transformed into a pig. Rosso is defeated in a dogfight against a dashing American rival, who has been hired by the dastardly bandits. With his plane damaged, he finds a repair hangar near Milan run by an aging mechanic named Piccolo, and his spunky granddaughter Fio. Initially skeptical of her mechanical prowess, Rosso is amazed when she and a legion of local women fix his plane. Soon, Porco Rosso is ready to battle his rival. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Porco Rosso (1992)
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7.77 (172 votes)
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Porco Rosso (Bonus Disc) (1992)
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6.17 (18 votes)
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GreenCine Member Reviews

not worth a rental by dyy1 March 28, 2005 - 12:41 PM PST
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1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
no interviews or featuretes. only the japanese storyboard, which is a no color/no animation version of the movie.


Pigs fly in Miyazaki's oddest outing yet. by JTurner1 March 15, 2005 - 9:10 PM PST
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3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Of the films by Hayao Miyazaki I have viewed thus far (keep in mind that I have yet to see Howl's Moving Castle), Porco Rosso is my least favorite. Alternately known as The Crimson Pig, this gorgeously animated yet oddly themed tale about a tormented pilot transformed into a pig was the highest grossing movie of its year (1992). But I didn't find Porco Rosso as captivating as Miyazaki's other films; perhaps because I've been spoiled by the adventurous spirit and imagination of Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke, the whimsy and charm of Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro and the surrealness of Spirited Away. The film eschews all these to tell a story geared more toward grown-ups than children.

With the exception of one mystified moment of imagination (a flashback sequence involving fallen airplanes ascending to a streaming trail of vapor--Airplane Heaven, perhaps?), the overall movie is more rooted in reality. When concentrating on character development and breathtaking flight sequences in the sky, Porco Rosso is at its best. But occasional shifts in the plot feel more obtrusive than interesting, and consequently, I didn't find this movie as memorable as Miyazaki's other work. By the time the credits rolled, I was of two minds--this was a pretty, well, strange movie, but still good... it just didn't click with me as much. (Though I still give the movie my highest recommendation.)

That said, I now have a huge amount of respect for Porco Rosso. And I owe it, mainly, to this two-disc DVD set by Disney. The visual transfer is crisp, clean and vibrant, showcasing the beautiful skies and oceans when our hero is in flight. The audio quality on the English, Japanese, and French language tracks is Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, which is a little disappointing for a film of this caliber, but understandable given the age. Purists will be happy to know that the Japanese language track is included, as well as the French language dub featuring Jean Reno as the title character. (I was told that Miyazaki prefers this version to the original.)

But what about the new Disney produced English dub? Well, I do admit to being skeptical about Michael Keaton as the pig-headed (pun-intended) protagonist. Not that I have anything against the actor or any sort of loyalty to the original Japanese seiyuu or Jean Reno, it's just that I had a vision on how Porco Rosso should sound, and Keaton was not it. After sitting through this dub, however, I lay my case to rest--Michael Keaton is an excellent Porco Rosso. His dry, deadpan delivery works in favor of the character's melancholy, cynical nature; but he's not afraid to let loose on the scenes where he's emotional either.

The rest of the cast is equally well matched. Susan Egan plays the thrice widowed bar singer Gina with the same amount of sarcasm and vulnerability she gave Lin in Spirited Away. She also has a great singing voice--for continuity's sake, Disney had Egan redbug Gina's siren song, and boy, is it beautiful. Cary Elwes turns in a gallantly boastful and hilarious performance as Porco's rival pilot, Donald Curtis, whose sole weakness is falling for every woman he sets eyes upon. (He also speaks with a surprisingly convincing Southern accent.) Deep-voiced Brad Garrett voices the ringleader of a macho band of seaside pirates with the kind of pomposity and heavy-weightiness you would expect, but also remembers to showcase the character's secretly softhearted nature. Although the banter between his pirate gang isn't as memorable as, say, Phil Hartman's Jiji from Kiki's Delivery Service, or even the guys who played the Dola Pirate Gang from Castle in the Sky, the chemistry between this bunch of thugs is undeniably funny. David Ogden Stiers hams it up as Grandpa Piccolo, employing a thick Italian accent, which actually makes his character all the more amusing.

It is probably daring to say that in every Disney/Miyazaki dub, there is always one actor standing out from all the others, practically stealing the show. In Kiki's Delivery Service, it was Hartman; in Princess Mononoke, Keith David; in Spirited Away, Suzanne Pleshette; in Castle in the Sky, Mark Hamill tied with Cloris Leachman; in Nausicaa, Patrick Stewart. So, yes, there is one such standout in this dub of Porco Rosso, and this time it's in the form of Kimberly Williams-Paisley. She does an absolutely bang-up job as the spunky, irrepressible engineer, Fio, who befriends (and becomes smitten with) Porco, and the chemistry between her and Keaton is a delight.

As with Kiki's Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky, the script occasionally makes a habit of reinterpreting and/or altering lines for either comprehensibility, or for the sake of a goof joke. Writers Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt never overstep their boundaries, though, and remember to retain all the important lines, just like the aforementioned two dubs did (which were both scripted by John Semper, incidentally). All in all, I ended up enjoying the dub more than I thought; it really made the movie a lot better for me IMHO.

Additional features include a Behind-the-Microphone featurette (which I always like watching; it's a thrill to see the actors at work!), Japanese trailers and TV spots, and the second disc devoted to storyboards. One noteworthy extra is a 3-minute interview with producer Toshio Suzuki. A longtime colleague of Miyazaki, Suzuki shares his wisdom about this gifted, imaginative animator, and it's a pleasure to hear him talk about this film's assets.

Disney continues their first-rate treatment of Miyazaki's titles with this nicely put together package of what is probably his oddest movie yet. I may not consider this my favorite of the works Miyazaki has done, but you're inclined to disagree. Besides, Miyazaki at his least is still highly recommended; you could definitely do a whole lot worse by missing out on a less memorable but still fabulous film.

This pig flies, and how! by kiume March 15, 2005 - 3:27 PM PST
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3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
In Porco Rosso (1995), Miyazaki returns to his whimsical, sentimental vision of the northern Mediterranean first depicted in Kiki's Delivery Service (1992). The prewar setting here is darker, with hints of the rising tide of fascism over the horizon, but Miyazaki embraces all the Hemingway-esque romanticism of the "lost generation" in this tale of two pilots fighting pirates and mostly each other for the hand of the lovely Gina.

Rare for Miyazaki, the protagonist is a man, Marco (Michael Keaton), a fighter ace cursed with the visage of a pig in the closing days of the Great War. He flies a bright red seaplane and can be usually counted on to (reluctantly) save hapless tourists from a band of loudmouthed, incompetent sky pirates (Brad Garrett). But his true rival is an obnoxious American, Curtis (Cary Elwes, sporting a Texas accent).

Their first encounter goes badly for Marco when his engine conks out mid-flight and he has to haul the wreck off the Milan to the shop of Grandpa Piccolo (an unrecognizable David Ogden Stiers). He leaves with Fio Piccolo (Kimberly Williams) in tow as his mechanic, making Porco Rosso the last in the arch of Miyazaki's "flying girls" films. (The only thing flying in his next feature, Princess Mononoke, would be arrows.)

As in Kiki's Delivery Service, this particular milieu seems to liberate Miyazaki from the onus of making The Big Point. He has captured all the rough charm of the Bogie & Bacall oeuvre, hearkening back to Hollywood classics about manly men being their manly selves, leavened by moments of screwball comedy and romance (none of that touchy-feely stuff, please), and a tough, independent woman or two to show them what's what.

Accompanied by Joe Hisaishi's gorgeous soundtrack, Shuichiro Moriyama (in the original) and Michael Keaton deliver pitch perfect readings, bringing alive Humphrey Bogart's gruff, cynical hero who always comes through in the end. As Susan Egan (Gina) observes, in a scene straight out of To Have and Have Not, you have a Japanese actress (Tokiko Kato) playing an Italian and singing in French. What's not to love?

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