The Movie Mark McKinney Has 'Seen A Million Times'

May 12, 2013
Originally published on May 12, 2013 3:51 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

Writer-comedian Mark McKinney's credits include the TV shows Slings and Arrows, Kids In The Hall and Less Than Kind — currently airing on HBO Canada. The movie he could watch a million times is Hayao Miyazaki's anime film, My Neighbor Totoro.


Interview Highlights

On what he thought when he first saw My Neighbor Totoro

"My first impression of the film was that it just took such care with setting up the world."

On why the scene with Totoro at the bus stop is his favorite

"It's a fantastically wonderful wild-mind moment, and you know it doesn't really follow any story, there's no particular reason for it, but it's there to bond the kids to Totoro, and it just works beautifully. And before you know it, that's completely sucked you into the story, and that's what all of Miyazaki's movies do for me."

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Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

On this show, we've been asking filmmakers about the movies they could watch over and over again, including this one from one of the creators of the TV show, "Slings and Arrows."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARK MCKINNEY: Hi. My name's Mark McKinney. I'm a comedian, writer, producer, and the movie that I've seen a million times is "My Neighbor Totoro" by Hayao Miyazaki, starring Elle and Dakota Fanning and adapted by John Lasseter for American audiences.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STROLL")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) Hey, let's go. Hey, let's go.

MCKINNEY: It must have been, I guess around 2004 that both my kids sort of were in an age where I thought they might appreciate it. And I think it's the movie I've watched most in life. It still makes me laugh. It still makes me smile.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

DAKOTA FANNING: (as Satsuki) Ready? Hold on.

MCKINNEY: My first impression of the film was that it just took such care with setting up the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

TIM DALY: (as Professor Kusakabe) So how do you like the new place?

FANNING: (as Satsuki) Dad, it's perfect. Look at this, a tunnel of trees.

MCKINNEY: You know, it's a story about two sisters who have moved with their dad in a new house in the country to be near the hospital where their mother is recovering from some unspecified illness. And they have to open up the house and sort of settle in.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

FANNING: (as Satsuki) It's pitch black.

ELLE FANNING: (as Mei) Maybe it's the soot gremlins.

MCKINNEY: They move in the very first day, and they become aware that the house is sort of haunted but, really, by these very cute, little, Nerf ball-y dust sprites.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

FANNING: (as Satsuki) Come out, come out, wherever you are. Ah.

FANNING: (as Mei) Come out, come out, wherever you are. Ah.

MCKINNEY: And there's a, you know, a moment where all the daughters are taking a bath with Dad, and there's a windstorm, and everybody's scared. And Satsuki, who's the oldest, climbs into the bathtub with everybody else, and then Dad just...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

DALY: (as Professor Kusakabe) (LAUGHTER)

MCKINNEY: ...suddenly bursts out laughing because he senses that's the way to ask the dust sprites to leave.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

DALY: (as Professor Kusakabe) (LAUGHTER)

FANNING: (as Satsuki) (LAUGHTER)

FANNING: (as Mei) (LAUGHTER)

MCKINNEY: It looks like a real family moment, a real family moment captured in animation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

MCKINNEY: Then, of course, it's about, you know, the children's relationship with the forest spirit, this gigantic, tubby creature called Totoro, who's mostly silent and occasionally roars and just sort of beams good vibes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

MCKINNEY: But what's the iconic one is the poster moment, Mei and her sister are waiting for their father to arrive by bus at a sort of a lonely, little bus stop in the middle of the forest, and it's raining, and they have an umbrella.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

FANNING: (as Satsuki) Ah, here it comes!

FANNING: (as Mei) Here it comes!

MCKINNEY: And Totoro emerges from the forest with a palm leaf on his head as his umbrella. And Satsuki, who's holding Mei, who's now asleep, you know, has a spare umbrella and gives it to him.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO")

FANNING: (as Satsuki) Oh, wait a minute. Here, try this.

MCKINNEY: And the sound of the raindrops falling from high, high up in the trees sort of bounce off the umbrella, and Totoro likes this. And so at one point, he jumps up and slams his three-ton body to the earth dislodging all the rain pellets and there's this sudden sort of downpour, and he screams in delight. And it's a fantastically wonderful, wild mind moment.

And you know, it doesn't really follow any story. There's no particular reason for it, but it's there to bond, you know, the kids to Totoro. And before you know it, that's completely sucked you into the story, and that's what all of Miyazaki's movies do for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RATH: I love that movie. That's "Kids in the Hall" comedian Mark McKinney talking about the movie he could watch a million times, "My Neighbor Totoro." McKinney produces the sitcom "Less Than Kind" which airs on HBO Canada.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.