Set in mostly in fascist Italy before WW II, this animated feature by master animator Hayao Miyazaki conjures up a fable of the lost era of water landing planes, where pilots were still free and heroic. The version dubbed in French of the film (the lead spoken by Jean Reno) titled Porco Rosso was also released in France. An english dub also exists (also included on the japanese DVD relesed in late March 2002), but this is to be avoided at all costs (Let's hope that Disney (aka "The Mouse") will re-dub the film when they finally release the film elsewhere.
The plot revolves around a free-lance pilot ace called Porco Rosso, because of his facial features (He looks like a pig. Why will be kind of explained in the film), who usually battles air pirates. When he gets shot down by an american pilot who is out to get famous, he needs to return to "civilization" in order to get his plane repaired and discovers, that the era of spirit and adventure is slowly coming to an end as the government seeks to abolish all free-lance flying.
To go any deeper wouldprobably spoil too much, but there is also love, adventure, fun, and finally, an all-out rematch with the american.
The film is fun to watch, a typical Studio Ghibli film, where no side is turely evil (the fascist are only a side note, and not acutually characterized), and can be watched with the entire family (no Mononoke-style flying heads). Miyazaki gets to display his love for flying and airplanes more than in his other movies, and also his yearning for older, easier times.
The Japanese DVD Set also includes english and french subtitles, as well as the english (poor) and french (good) dub, so even without an official release elsewhere, it can be viewed almost all around the world (if your DVD-player can handle Region Code 2 DVD's).
Wheather you buy the japanese double DVD set (priced at 4700Y before tax), watch it at a convention or wait for the official release by Disney (still in the stars), this is a film to check out. I would give it three thumbs up, but I only have two ;-)