My Neighbors the Yamadas

My Neighbors the Yamadas ★★★★½

"You have to accept life as it is. Acceptance is the key to surviving the worst situations without stopping to love each other or separating. Even the worst behavior can be accepted and forgiven if it is not driven by evil. In fact, you must forgive in order to move on. It doesn't have to be bad to resign yourself to a situation. In fact, it is essential. Something basic to have a happy family. Something basic to face life and move on. Although it may sound negative, it is the only way out of unacceptable situations."

What the heck! Why have I always been under the impression this was a minor Studio Ghibli effort? I mean, sure it's not Grave of the Fireflies or The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, but what films are? Just because Isao Takahata directed films with more thematic depth doesn't negate the sheer joy that radiates off of My Neighbors the Yamadas. This is possibly the funniest film Studio Ghibli's ever produced -- my fiancée and I spent basically the whole time screaming with laughter -- and the watercolor art style is a surprising but welcome change of pace from their usual work. It's playful, it's graceful (I love the poems punctuating the scenes), the music is charming as hell, and the ending is so overwhelming joyous that my face hurt from smiling so much. A welcome balm.

Apparently Michael Arndt used this film as a major source of inspiration while writing Little Miss Sunshine, which makes a lot of sense, and which prompted a rewatch of that film. The two work in dialogue beautifully! I can't recommend that double feature enough.

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