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My Neighbor Totoro

Released

Latest Home Video

May 21, 2013

MPAA Rating:

G


Run Time:

82

Director

Hayao Miyazaki

Cast

Tim Daly

Elle Fanning

Dakota Fanning

Studio

2006 Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Still shot from the movie: My Neighbor Totoro.

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Reviewed by

Overall A
ViolenceA
SexA
LanguageA
Drugs/AlcoholA
Run Time82

Making the Grades

It has been many years since I last watched My Neighbor Totoro. Suffering a similar fate to Puff the Magic Dragon, my aging children merely put it on the shelf one day and forgot to pull it back out again. Grander and more mature cinema adventures beckoned...

Then one day, a copy of the new 2 Disc edition showed up in my mailbox. Feeling somewhat sentimental, I put the DVD into my player--and before the opening credits had finished, the sound of their accompanying music had summoned all my family members. With a chorus of "I remember this," they settled around the TV to watch the familiar tale unfold.

Using the incredible art form of Japanese anime, the movie opens with two young sisters peeking out of a moving truck as it heads toward their new home. Relocating to be closer to their hospitalized mother, the girls can hardly wait to explore the rural residence and its surrounding woods and rice patties. Soon they discover the place is full of soot sprites (little, black, fluffy blobs with blinking eyes) and some other amazing critters called Totoros. Invisible to adults, but very real to children, these fuzzy bunny-like "forest spirits" create a wealth of possibilities for fun and friendship.

Told through the eyes of these youngsters, the world is a wondrous place where the biggest worries are windstorms, forgetting one's umbrella, and making-strange with the babysitter. There are no bad-guys--only the uncertainties associated with an ill parent. While the story builds sympathy for their fears, it never becomes too scary for even the youngest of audiences. The mythical Totoros are also believable, as these warm and wonderful creatures accurately represent what many children would desire in an imaginary companion.

The viewing experience was even more enchanting this time because the audio track has been redone, and now features a better script where less is lost in translation. Real-life sisters, Elle and Dakota Fanning, have provided the voice talents. Their excitement about working with each other comes right through the microphone and infects the project with an almost tangible charm.

But the real magic, which has delighted audiences since My Neighbor Totoro's debut in 1988, is how accurately this animated film captures the essence of childhood--simply by illustrating believable situations and expressions. Not dimming with age, I found myself smiling as the amazing production once again held my now-teenaged kids spellbound.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about My Neighbor Totoro.

How does the fact that the mother’s health concerns are never explained in the movie contribute to the sense of seeing the world through the children’s eyes? What other ways do the film’s creators capture that feeling?

News & Views About My Neighbor Totoro:

Canadian Movie Ratings

BC
SK
Not Rated
AB Not Rated
MB Not Rated -----
ON Not Rated
QC Not Rated
NB
NS
NL
PE
Not Rated

Canadian Home Video Rating: G

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of My Neighbor Totoro...

Blu-ray Notes: My Neighbor Totoro

Release date: May 21, 2013

My Neighbor Totoro releases on Blu-ray with the following extras:

- Behind the Microphone

- Behind the Studio

- Original Japanese Storyboards

- Original Japanese Trailer

DVD Release Date: 14 March 2006

With a newly recorded English audio track (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) My Neighbor Totoro reappears in the home entertainment marketplace as a 2-disc set. The DVD package includes the original Japanese soundtrack (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) and theatrical trailer, the complete storyboards set to the movie’s soundtrack, as well as the opening and closing animation without credits. A short featurette gives viewers a chance to go Behind the Microphone with sisters Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning when they recorded their voices. A French language audio track (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) is also available, with subtitles in English, Japanese and French.

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