Poll: How old are your children? (select as many as apply)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Movie #26: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

"Trees and people used to be good friends. I saw that tree and decided to buy the house. Hope Mom likes it too. Okay, let's pay our respects then get home for lunch."

Following up the last definitely-not-little-kid-friendly-movie, here's one that's suitable for just about any kid who's old enough to sit through an 86-minute film.


  • Rating: G

  • Minimum Recommended Age: 5 (Common Sense Media: "On for ages 5 and up", Kids First! Juror Recommended Age: 5-8)

  • Quality Rating: 93.7% (Common Sense Media: 5 stars, Parent Previews Overall Grade: A, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 8.1)

  • Number of Lists Recommend: 2

  • Sex/Violence/Profanity: According to IMDB, "There is a scene where the father bathes with his children. None of the genitals are seen, but there is a glimpse of the buttocks. It's very inoffensive, but you may have to understand that families bathing together is part of Japanese culture and not meant to be sexual in any sense. Additionally, there is a glimpse of the Catbus's scrotum, but it is very hard to notice." (See below)

  • Running Time: 86 minutes

  • What does it have to do with Halloween? Nothing


From Rotten Tomatoes: When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

Watch Out For

Common Sense Media: Although there are slightly creepy "dust sprites" that appear in the house at first, they eventually disappear. Totoro himself might look and sound a bit odd, but he's quite sweet and gentle. The protagonist girls have an ill mother with an unnamed disease, but the moments in the hospital are not sad or depressing. Some parents may not feel comfortable with the amount of freedom the girls (as is the case with children in all of Hayao Miyazaki's films) have to wander off alone, either around their neighborhood, the surrounding forest, or on a long walk to visit their mother.

Parent Previews: There are no bad-guys--only the uncertainties associated with an ill parent.

My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Set) Various

My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Set) VariousYou know, I guess it does kind of look like a scrotum...

Talk About It

Common Sense Media:
* Families can talk about why Mei and Satsuki aren't afraid of Totoro. Why are they able to befriend him so easily? How does he help them and their family?
* How do the girls deal with their mother's sickness? Does the mother's hospitalization affect the sisters differently?
* What is the animation style like? How are the humans depicted? Are the Totoros and the Catbus scary-looking? What makes it obvious they're gentle creatures?

Kids First!
* Prompted discussions about running away and how to handle fear or ghosts.

Parent Previews:
How does the fact that the mother’s health concerns are never explained in the movie contribute to the sense of seeing the world through the children’s eyes? What other ways do the film’s creators capture that feeling?

Of Note

  • Roger Ebert lists it as one of his Great Movies
  • Empire Magazine ranks it at #41 on its list of The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema (The greatest films not in the English language)
  • Won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize and the Mainichi Film Award for Best Film in 1988


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