29 July 2000 | zetes
One of the greatest children's films ever made
This ranks up there with Pinocchio as the greatest movie for children ever made. One huge problem with most animated children's films are that the plots are so conventional and often contain very 1950s ideals for society that they become detrimental to society. One's childhood is the most impressionable time in their life, so movies that are directed towards them teach them what places different sorts of people play in society. There is a very humorous, but also very serious bit of dialogue in a film called The Last Days of Disco where characters discuss the effects Lady and the Tramp could have on little girls, depicting a young female dog falling for a vagabond Tramp. This, they muse, sets young women up to fall for rebellious men later in life. This may seem like a humorous idea, but it's absolutely true. Even good Disney movies give children these standards. As nice as The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves may be, they basically teach that it is the woman's place to grow up and get married, prefereably to a handsome rich man (perhaps the rich part is never said, but both the main male characters in these films do happen to own castles). The writers of these films probably had no idea that that is what they were doing, but it is.
That is why Pinocchio is the best Disney movie. It is probably the only Disney animated film that I can think of that actually concerns the predicament of its target audience: children. I can hardly think of a single (American) animated film besides it that has a child as its main character (oh, the Jungle Book, which is also excellent).
Then comes Kiki's Delivery Service. It is an absolutely perfect movie about a young girl out on her own trying to handle the responsibilities of life. It is, in my opinion, the best movie that a child can watch. And not only will it teach children, it is also marvelously animated, directed, and written. There is a plethora of great characters, exciting moments, and imaginative situations. It should also expand a child's mind, not only because of the imagination involved, which will help to break children away from conventions in their film experience, thus making them more intelligent, but because it comes from another culture. It doesn't overtly show its Japaneseness, unless you count the imagination involved (though you should count that as a credit towards Hayao Miyazaki, who is the greatest genius of animation as far as I'm concerned). But it may spark an interest in children old enough to understand that someone from another country made it. Also, for younger kids, Miyazaki's fantastic, equally good My Neighbor Totoro. 10/10
(ps: I have only seen the dubbed version of this film. I find it perfectly acceptable and great. Nothing made me cringe, anyway. I think Kirsten Dunst did a very good job characterizing Kiki, a much better job than Claire Danes did characterizing San from Princess Mononoke.)