Based on Mary Stewart’s classic children’s book “The Little Broomstick,” we meet frizzy haired Mary, a young girl sent to live with her great aunt Charlotte by her parents as they prepare to move. Overcome by boredom, she ventures out in to the wilderness and follows a mysterious black cat in to the nearby forest. There she finds an old broomstick embedded in an old tree, as well as a mysterious glowing flower called the “Fly-by-Night.” The influences of Studio Ghibli are all over the place in Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s animated adventure “Mary and the Witch’s Flower.” From “Whisper of the Heart,” “Spirited Away,” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” there are so many nods and winks to the aforementioned properties that it becomes kind of a treat to see it all unfold.
A ridiculously talented cast leads what is easily one of the most underrated films of the last few years; “Monsters vs. Aliens” is a Mad Magazine style action adventure film that not only manages to pay tribute to the classic science fiction B movie tropes of the golden age of cinema, but also manages to create its own monster squad, that show they can save the world and not terrify it. “Monsters vs. Aliens” teams a blob, a gill man, a bug man (Hugh Laurie in his noticeable smug but likable demeanor), a giant grub, and a 50ft woman to take on archetypal alien menaces as they go on an exploration of themselves and their strengths as a team.