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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Mirai movie review: and baby ruins everything

Mirai yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

This tenderly animated Japanese film about sibling rivalry is lovely with its fantasy, but too convoluted for children and too slight for adults.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, male protagonist
(learn more about this)

Four-year-old Kun (the voice of Moka Kamishiraishi) has a new baby sister, and he is not at all happy about it: Mirai has distracted his parents to the point where they barely seem to pay any attention to him anymore! This tenderly animated Japanese film is lovely with its fantasy: Kun gets magical visits from teenaged Mirai (the voice of Haru Kuroki) — her name means “future”! — as well as other family members, past and present, and even a human embodiment of his dog (who is unhappy to have been replaced in the affections of Kun’s parents by the boy’s own arrival), all of whom teach him small, gentle lessons about what it means to be a big brother, and what it means to be a part of a family with a long history. There’s sweet compassion, too, in writer-director Mamoru Hosoda’s (The Boy and the Beast) portrait of a household gone topsy-turvy with a tantrum-prone toddler and demanding newborn taking center stage; Kun is particularly realistically well-drawn, no pun intended, and charmingly so: his little-boy obsession with trains is pointedly deployed.

Still, if it’s all a bit It’s a Wonderful Life meets A Christmas Carol, the perspective is that of a very small child whose own consciousness is only just beginning to dawn, and hence the lessons his supernatural visitors impart are very slight and far too mundane to compel much beyond the mildest of interest in those of us who’ve already learned the value of not throwing a fit in order to get our way. And yet it’s probably too convoluted and confusing for a viewer Kun’s own age. I’m not sure who the audience is here, but it wasn’t me.

I watched the film in the original Japanese with subtitles. An English-dubbed version is also available, featuring the voices of John Cho, Rebecca Hall, and Daniel Dae Kim.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2018’s other releases.

yellow light 2.5 stars

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Mirai (2018) | directed by Mamoru Hosoda
US/Can release: Nov 30 2018
UK/Ire release: Nov 02 2018

MPAA: rated PG for thematic elements including some scary images
BBFC: rated PG (mild threat, scary scenes)

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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