It may just be in my head, but whenever a Japanese animated family movie comes out all I can think of is "Oh boy, looks like another Miyazaki-wannabe here." That's not fair. That's like saying every animated kids movie in the US suffers from Pixar-envy... well, I guess that is true though, so who knows. Maybe all Japanese family feature film directors DO want to do their best to imitate the famous Studio Ghibli (which has nothing but massive hits with heaps of critical acclaim under its collective belt). A grand slam like that could only be a good thing, right?
I say all this because the movie Wolf Children to me felt like a total Ghibli rip-off, but it doesn't quite lock down the magic of Miyazaki's (or his coworkers') masterpieces. Nothing really happens in Wolf Children, and it's boring. I fought the urge to simply turn it off on a number of occasions, and it's only a two hour flick. Almost immediately after watching Wolf Children Cupcake and I popped in Miyazaki's own childhood classic My Neighbor Totoro. Now, despite the fact that nothing really happens in Totoro either, and it's set up almost the same way (the main young characters move to a countryside house in the middle of nowhere and experience new supernatural adventures in chapter-like bits), Miyazaki's film flowed, was super fun and very exciting, and ended too soon.
But enough of that palaver, let's get this review on the road.
Wolf Children - Ame and Yuki is about two kids who were born to a regular Japanese college student mom, and a hardworking blue-collared werewolf father (he hides his "condition" well from most folks). They're all a happy family until one day the dad went all wolfy in an attempt to catch some wild prey that he came upon in a canal in downtown Tokyo — his wild side apparently taking over at the site of a large water fowl — and he died in the rain, all alone. While the mother (one cute young woman named Hana) is devastated by the loss of her wolfman, she does her best to keep her two children fed and in check, but this soon proves to be too much for her with her kids being very vocal criers, and with them both having the ability to turn into wolves whenever they want, making the landlord think that they have dogs in their pet-free apartment. Not knowing how to raise two werewolf children in the big city, Hana packs up her meager possessions and takes the family to the mountains of Central Japan.
It is at this point that the tale seems to come to a dead stop. The two kids (older girl Ame and younger boy Yuki) are some of the most annoying and/or pathetic fictional children I've ever seen put to screen. They're whiners who never listen to their mother, and they grow into stubborn, stupid adolescents. I hated them both. The countryside portion of the movie mostly deals with Hana learning how to farm in order to raise her family cheaply but healthily, and with Ame and Yuki choosing whether they want to live their lives as either wolves or humans. That's about two hours of movie-time summed up in one sentence with no loss of any real information.
So Ame gets bullied in human school, and, just like every other grade school drama ever written, soon finds that she like-likes the boy who is bullying her because she is a stupid, stupid child. And Yuki turns into more of a wuss the older he gets, and eventually finds that he likes running around with foxes, bears, and other woodland-shitters in his wolf form more than he ever did hanging out with real peeps as a human child. In the end it appears that the entire point of this movie is to point out that kids are stupid. And they are — this is nothing new to be learned.
There was nothing new to this movie. Really, nothing. There was no drama to it either, and only one likeable character (that would be Hana). The only "laughs" from this movie are when the kids do something incredibly destructive ("Ha HA! The girl turned into a wolf and chewed up the entire apartment! That's about $2,000 worth of damage! HilARious!") or incredibly stupid ("LMFAO! That stupid girl turned into a wolf in front of the neighbors despite her mother telling her not to, thus putting their current lives at risk for no reason at all other than moronicness! GodDAMN this shit is funny!"). I HATED the wolf children in this flick. And they only get dumber as things go on. Idiot children should die. Painfully. Fuck their stupid little brains!
I once tried to create some wolf children of my own. First I tried transplanting the head of a wolf to the body of a child (and vice versa), but the wolf-headed girl just ran around in circles, yelping, looking for its tail and urinating all around my lab and the girl-headed wolf just sat down and cried for its mommy, who couldn't hear hear because of the crazed, rabid apes that were throwing their feces at her in the other room.
My next attempt at a wolf child included a female wolf in heat, a bottle of Riesling, a Barry White album, some edible undies of my own, and... Well, nothing came from that except a restraining order.
This movie was not that good, but not for any scientific reasons. I just wanted to cause great pain to all of the main and sub-characters with some hydrochloric acid, or maybe some scalpels and ice picks. Anyway, I have to get back to Spray-n-Washing all my lab coats... Honestly, I need to just start buying red ones in the first place.
Miyazaki Envy is dishonorable to all involved. Wolf Children writers and director need to reevaluate their pitiable lives, and consider seppuku as a viable alternative in the future, instead of insulting their audience with proverbial "shit on a stick" in the future.