Porco Rosso 1992 | Movie Watchlist

Reviewed by Robert Pardi

Animator/fabulist Hayao Miyazaki pays homage to Hollywood’s wartime adventure films in this masterwork built around the adventures of a high-flying pig.

1930s Europe is a haven for seaplane pirates like the Mama Auito Gang, who plunder gold shipments with impunity and shanghai students for ransom. Only one name strikes fear in their hearts: Porco Rosso (Voice of Michael Keaton), a bounty hunter who pilots his bi-plane for paying customers. Once a human being, pig-man Porco was bewitched because of his selfish behavior during WWI. Although romance is out of the question, Porco pines for Gina (Susan Egan), the widow of a fallen comrade who know runs a resort on the Adriatic Sea. The seaplane buccaneers import swaggering American mercenary Donald Curtis (Cary Elwes) to rid them of Porco; he also intends to win Gina's heart and launch a career for himself as a dashing movie star. Gina persuades him to flee the gangsters, and he unwisely heads for Italy, where the Fascist government views him as a traitor for having deserted the Italian air force. Porco hooks up with his aging mechanic, Grandpa Piccolo (David Ogden Stiers), who informs him that only one person can retool Porco’s antiquated aircraft: Piccolo’s teenaged granddaughter, Fio (Kimberly Williams-Paisley)! Though initially a sexist pig, Porco is won over by Pio’s expertise. But even with his plane in working order, Porco will be hard-put to escape both the secret police and the well-financed Curtis.

This animated feature's visual splendor is matched by a droll screenplay that takes a sty-side view of heroism – imagine CASABLANCA's Rick Blaine as a porker. Seamlessly adapted for American audiences by Donald H. Davis and Cindy Hewitt Davis, this spoof/pastiche of old-movie cliches also soars as a paean to the redeeming power of friendship and loyalty.