'Earwig and the Witch' Review: Studio Ghibli's First CG Outing

variety.com
4 min read
fairly difficult
Erica Wigg, the main character of Goro Miyazaki's made-for-TV feature "Earwig and the Witch," is both a brat and an orphan. Those two traits seldom go together in children's stories, and the combination provides a modest starting point for this intermittently amusing CG entry from Studio Ghibli — back in business but a shadow of […]
Erica Wigg, the main character of Goro Miyazaki's made-for-TV feature "Earwig and the Witch," is both a brat and an orphan. Those two traits seldom go together in children's stories, and the combination provides a modest starting point for this intermittently amusing CG entry from Studio Ghibli — back in business but a shadow of its former glory. Erica also happens to be the daughter of a rock-star sorceress, who dropped her on the stoop of St. Morwald's Home for Children with a note: "Got the other 12 witches all chasing me. I'll be back for her when I've shook them off. It may take years."

It will take closer to 75 minutes, actually, at which point the movie abruptly ends without providing any sense of those adventures. Judging by the opening motorcycle chase — in which this witch (voiced by Kacey Musgraves in the GKIDS-produced, HBO Max-streaming English dub) uses her flaming red, corkscrew-shaped hair to cast an impressive spell — it's almost certain that whatever Erica's high-speeding, spell-casting absentee mom is doing off-screen must be a lot more exciting than what her daughter (Taylor Paige Henderson) is up to. Sneaking around and complaining, mostly.

Alas, we're stuck with this impudent urchin for the length of this movie, and while the story doesn't feel terribly original, Erica's attitude manages to set her apart from such relatively well-behaved orphans as Harry Potter and Roald Dahl's Matilda. Earwig (the character's real name, as well as the inspiration for the twin pincer-shaped ponytails sticking up on either side of her head) has positively no interest in being adopted, leaving it to St. Morwald's other charges to impress any…
Peter Debruge
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