My Neighbors the Yamadas

Rated PG 104 minutes

Studio Ghibli—the Japanese outfit that produced Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle—favors traditional anime style, but this goofy 1999 comedy, its first digital project, features cartoonish characters and minimal, pastel-shaded backgrounds. It's based on a manga that debuted a few years after The Simpsons, and the bickering Yamada clan bear a strong resemblance to Springfield's favorite family: doltish dad, nagging mom, smart aleck son, irrepressible daughter, irate grandmother. The movie is impressive for its even mix of snarky humor and sincere sentiment, and even more impressive when one considers that director Isao Takahata made his name with the harrowing antiwar drama Grave of the Fireflies (1988).

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