Editors' pick

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) movie poster
MPAA rating: PG
Genre: Action/Adventure, Animated
Weekend's Desson Howe calls this film "equally appealing to children (those of adventurous, non-freak-outable spirit), Japanese animation (anime) fans and any surviving acquaintances of Timothy Leary." Style's Jane Horwitz says there is "precious little in 'Spirited Away' to cause fidgets in young or old, and far more to produce awe and laughter."
Starring: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito, Yasuko Sawaguchi
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Release: Opened Sep 20, 2002
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Editorial Review

Chihiro (voice of Daveigh Chase), a 10-year-old girl, is unhappy, as her parents drive to their new home in suburbia. New school, new friends, new house? She's terrified. Then comes that unexpected turn into a strange tunnel.

Where are they? The family parks the car and walks toward a lovely smell. A barbecue, it looks like. Mother and father start eating. And eating. Chihiro's worried. There's no one around. Shouldn't they wait for someone to appear?

Okay, there's only one way to say this: Her parents turn into pigs.

And so begins an adventure, passingly reminiscent of such stories as "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "The Wizard of Oz." Chihiro, who wants to find a way to restore her parents to human form, finds herself in a large bath-house full of ghosts and spirits. The institution is run by Yubaba (voice of Suzanne Pleshette), a nasty, beak-nosed dowager who looks like Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire: 30 Years Later" and doesn't like humans in her establishment.

Chihiro gets help in her quest from a young boy called Haku (Jason Marsden), who can transform into a dragon.

-- Desson Howe, Washington Post Staff Writer