Porco Rosso
Type: Movie
Genre: Action
Version: Region 1 DVD
Reviewed: 12/29/05


Welcome to the Adriatic Sea, in the summer of 1929. During these balmy summer days, Miyazaki takes us along the adventures of Porco Rosso, which literally means “Crimson Pig” in Italian. And nothing says “highflying fun” like a pig man bounty hunter chasing down pirates as he thumbs his nose at the increasingly fascist Italian government.

But wait a second. Miyazaki made a film that doesn’t star a spunky female protagonist? That stars instead a cynical daredevil pilot named Marco, a man under a magic spell that gives him his pig shape? Sounds like a guy film to me. There’s also a curious lack of Miyazaki’s now almost trademark environmentalist and hippie slantings, with plenty of exciting aerial dogfights and women using the powers of their oh-so-sexy bodies to convince uncouth male counterparts to go along with them. Perhaps the film’s origins as a Japan Airlines in-flight film are the cause, and the result is a movie that looks like Miyazaki’s…but feels completely different.

Screen Shot
Come on baby, let the hideous pig man buy you a drink.

So lets start with Marco relaxing in his awesome island hideout, and then ramp up the action with a air pirate gang kidnapping a load of schoolgirls, which of course means that the amazing Crimson Pig is called into to save the day. Marco defeats the gang handily, but while relaxing at his good friend Gina’s bar, finds out the various gangs have gotten together to put a stop to him, and are using the help of the American racing pilot Donald Curtis to do it. Because Americans are just that great, and apparently have ugly-assed mustaches. After Marco has eight kinds of crap kicked out of him by Donald, he retreats to Milan, to get his plane tricked out and hire a bunch of whores to sooth his wounded ego. He was probably joking with that last part.

Milan leads Marco to his old engineer friend, and more importantly for the story, to Fio, the engineer’s redheaded, seventeen year old, jailbait granddaughter. Sexual tension is immediately displayed, but luckily for those in the audience who hate bestiality, Fio sticks to rebuilding Marco’s plane(hurhurhur) with the help of every female relation she has. Their camaraderie holds firm as Marco flees the Italian secret police with Fio as his new co-pilot, and they completely fail to engage in hanky panky when they get back to his secret hideout. This is probably because of the hundreds of pirates that ambush him, but like, whatever. Miyazaki is a total copout. All of this culminates into a thrilling and financially rewarding one-on-one match between Marco and Donald, with Fio’s hand in marriage as the prize.

Screen Shot
Americans apparently pilot with their knees.

So yeah, Porco Rosso is a darn good time. Guys will cheer the battles, girls will swoon over the, uh…pig/girl love. Both will shudder in terror at Disney’s choice of Michael Keaton for Marco. Cary Elwes, yes, that’s right, the dashing pirate from Princess Bride, plays Donald Curtis, and displays a terribly embarrassing southern accent. But no worries, the rest of the voices are suitably done, and the music is enjoyable enough that this reviewer actually went out and bought the CD. The animation is almost shockingly good, a lot of the aerial stunts are handled with professional deftness, and the gorgeous islands of the Adriatic Sea are rendered in loving detail.

There isn’t a whole lot not to like about Porco Rosso. Miyazaki designed it with blitzed out businessmen in mind, and the final product is an enjoyable, if light, film for everyone. There are, however, a couple of scenes where Marco talks shockingly down to Fio, who takes it with a smile and shows how helpless he is without her; so unless you’re a feminazi, it should be all right. The theme of freedom over all else is one that all viewers can agree on and cheer for.

-Andrew Duff