MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS
Review by Ed Nguyen
Voices: Jim Belushi, Molly Shannon, Tress MacNeille, Daryl Sabara, Liliana Mumy
Director: Isao Takahata
Audio: English or Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Color, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
Features: Behind the Microphone featurette, trailers, original storyboards
Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: August 16, 2005
is fleeting, life is long."
for Japan's Studio Ghibli! They
sure know how to make fun cartoons. Tired
of trendy and contemporary CG-animated films which try too hard to please?
Want something really relaxing with plenty of kiddy appeal and charm?
Why not watch My Neighbors The
sweet, winsome, and innocent film from Studio Ghibli takes a peek into the wacky
suburban lives of the Yamada family. There's
Takashi, the stressed-out father, and Matsuko, the bumbling housewife.
There's also Noboru, the teenaged son embarrassed about his nutty folks,
and Nonoko, the wide-eyed baby sister who does cute little things.
And what family drama would be complete without that old battleaxe, the
dreaded mother-in-law, or the cool and collected family pooch?
Neighbors The Yamadas
comes from the comic strip by Hisaichi Ishii.
The drawings are minimalist and very sparse.
The film is like watching a Charles Schultz Peanuts
TV special - simple little Zen philosophies wrapped up in humorous vignettes.
Or, in this case, simple little haikus.
is no main story, just a constant string of life's little joys and accidents.
We see cooking disasters, struggles over the television remote, and silly
arguments about nothing. We also
see how everyone in the family dreams and imagines a lot about how the future
can be even better. But they don't
just dream about it, they work hard to make their dreams come true, too.
the movie is funny only for Japanese people.
But most of the time, everyone can laugh at the jokes in this film.
There is a cute story about how the family forgets Nonoko at the shopping
mall one day. But she is not
scared; she finds a helpful information desk and complains that everyone in her
family has gotten lost except her! In
another story, the father has to make a speech in front of a lot of people, and
he is very nervous. When he talks,
he makes some goofy mistakes but he doesn't stop talking, and in the end,
everyone really likes his speech.
all the little stories in My Neighbors The
Yamadas are not only funny but also teach some poetic lessons about
relationships and life. Maybe being
part of a family is not always perfect and maybe we get into trouble with our
parents or brothers or sisters, but in the end, everything will turn out okay.
Don't give up, keep on going. As
the saying goes in a famous song, que sera
sera - whatever will be, will be!
at all the pretty little drawings! There
is mostly white background with some sketches, but the drawings look a lot like
comic strips. The fantasy sequences
are more elaborate. Otherwise, this
is simple and basic animation.
transfer is practically perfect and very clear. It is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks almost
to the film in Japanese if you like. It's
Dolby Digital 5.1. Or listen to it
in English. It's also Dolby Digital
5.1 and has the voices of Jim Belushi and Molly Shannon.
Both soundtracks are very good. Even
the happy Japanese songs are very catchy. However,
the most famous song is "Que Sera Sera" at the end of the film; it
describes family life very well, not just for the Yamadas but for everybody.
Disney skimped a little on the extras here, but that's okay.
This is an unassuming little film that doesn't need a lot of explanation.
Check out the Behind the Microphone
featurette (5 min.) if you're interested in the funny actors, like Jim Belushi,
behind the English voices for this film.
you liked My Neighbors The Yamadas,
also watch the trailers on this disc. You
can learn more about other great Studio Ghibli films, like the famous Spirited
Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Porco
Rosso, The Cat Returns, and, best of all, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Or, you can take a sneak peak at Disney's Cinderella, Toy Story, Tarzan,
and upcoming Valiant. Don't forget the sixteen minutes of
"work-in-progress" trailers for My
Neighbors The Yamadas, either!
if you want to see how My Neighbors The
Yamadas was made, look at the "Original Storyboards" section on
this disc. It shows how almost the
entire story was first planned and drawn on sketch pads before it was made into
are the best reason to weather life's storms."