Overview: From Up On Poppy Hill is an animated Studio Ghibli film written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Goro Miyazaki. Toho. 2011. Rated PG. 91 Minutes.
Strengths: From Up On Poppy Hill features rich, beautiful animation (a Studio Ghibli standard) and a heartfelt tale of love and friendship in the midst of struggle and change. This is a family-friendly film, accessible to both adults and children, and the film features an exceptional English translation voice cast. Miyazaki manages to build interesting characters in a short time that allows the emotional swings of the story to really take hold.
A Strong Bond: Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin) build a true and innocent friendship amidst a changing Japan preparing for the 1964 Olympics. As they go from strangers, to acquaintances, to best friends viewers feel the honesty and natural progression of their relationship. The bond they form together through their struggles is a joy to witness.
Weaknesses: While the narrative does have emotional swings, the pacing is deliberate which may lead to viewers feeling like the short 91 minute running time is longer than it actually is. In addition, some of the cameo voice actors are not as well matched to their characters as the leading voice actors.
Best Voice Actor: Bolger and Yelchin are consistent and bring life to Umi and Shun. Beau Bridges and Ron Howard make an appearance, and Aubrey Plaza offers her vocal talent and personality to a briefly on-screen character who will certainly entertain loyal fans of Plaza’s trademark deadpan comedy.
Watch This Movie If: You have kids or enjoy any other Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli release