Visual delights fill Hayao Miyazaki's hand-drawn riff on Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, from the jellyfish markings that resemble abstract Japanese kimono prints to the arching whales whose lines recall a Hiroshige woodcut of a sinuous carp to a seascape of ships twinkling in the inky night beneath a huge moon. But compared to My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service, this 2008 release is one of the master's weaker efforts. The heroine, a goldfish who yearns to become human after she's rescued by a five-year-old boy, is grating as a little girl, and the gobbledygook spouted by her wizard father (given voice by Liam Neeson) undercuts the screenplay's ecological theme. Like its closing song, much of the movie is aimed at juveniles. With the voices of Cate Blanchett, Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin, and Betty White.
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