Road to Ninja — Naruto the Movie (NR)

Action/Adventure 110 min. August 29, 2014
By Sherilyn Connelly
Hayato Date's anime Road to Ninja — Naruto the Movie is the ninth feature film spun off from the Naruto manga and television series, yet it's surprisingly accessible for newcomers. Naruto (Maile Flanagan) is a budding ninja whose parents died saving their village when he was an infant. Meanwhile, his friend and fellow ninja-in-training, Sakura (Kate Higgins), is frequently embarrassed by her own folks. Sakura and Naruto not so secretly envy one another's familial situations, and they get their chance to live out their desires when a masked figure sends them into an alternate universe where Sakura's parents perished defending the village, and Naruto's parents are alive and not quite as heroic. Their peers' personalities are also different in this altered time line, and Sakura and Naruto helpfully comment on these changes for those viewers who might not be aware that, say, Kiba isn't usually a cat person. Though there's plenty of action, this is a fluffy lark, lacking the emotional resonance about parental death found in A Letter to Momo or Patema Inverted. It plays more like a sitcom, with certain moments crying out for a laugh track or a studio audience going "Awwwww." Which is fine, as sooner or later, most sitcoms gets around to riffing on It's a Wonderful Life.
Hayato Date Junko Takeuchi, Chie Nakamura, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Emi Shinohara Yuka Miyata, Masashi Kishimoto Eleven Arts


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