waynepygram.com: Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

waynepygram.com: Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

You'd think they'd never seen a girl and a cat on a broom before

What is it?  90ish minute long animated feature film, originally from Japan (one of dem "ann-yee-mayeahs" da kiddos are always talkin' 'bout)
Where did it air? It originally debuted in the home country around 1988 or so and then popped up in this country intermittently in various places since, until a decade later in 1998. Up to then it was mostly viewable exclusively on Japan Airlines' inflight entertainment so yeah, you had to buy a ticket and hope you really, really liked Tokyo if you wanted to see the movie that badly. In 1998 Disney purchased Studio Ghibli and redubbed it for wide-distribution home release (with various TV outlets airing it since; I first saw it on broadcast of all things way back in 2008 but like with Little Manhattan I got the DVD from the library specifically for this review) and got serious money for some serious voice talent which...we'll get into more detail with starting...oh, right now:
Who stars in it? Kristen Dunst in the main role as Kiki and Phil Hartman in the role of her cat familiar. Yes, that Phil Hartman. This would in fact be his very last acting role ever prior to his and his wife's murder-suicide, performed during what would've been in the middle of his ongoing SNL run and Newsradio Season 2 (speaking of which I really have to review Newsradio one of these days, it truly is one of the greatest multi-cams of all time).
Why are we reviewing this? I was hoping to turn my A++ reviews into a quartet but...yeah, read the review:

When I first saw this in 2008, I was really blown away. This was in fact the very first Miyazaki film I'd ever seen - I hadn't even seen Princess Mononoke yet and I wouldn't see Spirited Away until half a decade later in 2013, though I have seen other Miyazaki films in the meantime and since. I was really taken in by the story of a tween/young-teen girl who decided to go out into the world on her own and the coming-of-age story wrapped around it, and was really inspired by Kiki's sense of adventure and courage.

About a month or so when I sat down to review Little Manhattan and thought of other films that might earn an A++ rating, I was pretty sure Kiki's Delivery Service, based strictly on my memory, would be one of those.

Sadly...ummm, no.

Don't get my wrong it's still a good movie. It's just that...I was really surprised by all the...umm...boring parts in it.

Like...Kiki delivers one thing to one customer. Then Kiki...delivers another thing to another customer.

I understand world and character building. I'm a novelist myself (or trying to be one), trust me. But the whole point is building upon that world and character. Showing what's effectively the same action repeatedly...is just repetitive.

If it were trimmed to more of the essentials, this might've been that A++ film I remembered a decade ago. As it stands, the good parts of Kiki finding herself and exploring this new, big world around her and being a hero in it rest in-between parts that just make me restless and lose my attention. 

But it's still a really decent coming-of-age story that I would encourage you show to your daughters again and again and again and I'm sure they'll love it in spite of its flaws. And boys will no doubt find wonder and admiration in Kiki's determination, too. Just like I did, and my late-teens/early-twenties-ass self when I actually saw it.

Movie Grade: A-. That said, it feels like this got knocked way the hell down on the score, especially from its anticipated A++ grade. Again, it's the repetitive, boring parts that feel as if they add minimal world and character building that drag it down. You can tell this was a relative first effort from Miyazaki and the breathless, epic, world-spanning mythic storytelling he's now known the world-over for.
Movie MVP: Well it's always hard to judge on animated films, as I've said every time we review them but...I'm giving it to Kristen Dunst, because she really does help bring Kiki herself to life. I really think it was a big reason why I remember this movie so fondly, perhaps unfairly fondly.

Extra Thoughts:

 - yeah still playing catch-up here. As I alluded to earlier, I had four films in mind that I thought would be eligible for A++ - the one that started it all, Little Manhattan (that I just reviewed), this movie (which didn't quite make the cut), one that I just recently rewatched and one that's still on the watch shelf. You might notice a few things in common and recurring themes in here.
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