Mary and the Witch’s Flower – A Fine Film but a Terrible Experience

Ponyo Goes to Luna Nova

It seriously felt like that. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a film that I happened to be fortunate enough to go see in the theatre. The film itself is pretty good, there was some magic and whimsy there with the typical Ghibli feeling that one might expect from a studio that is an offshoot of said famed studio. That being said, I have a horror tale to tell like no other about the actual theater itself…

I guess I should actually talk about the movie at least a little bit. Mary is a young girl living in the European countryside with some relatives. She’s not very good at anything and typically causes trouble without meaning to. It’s boring for Mary. One day she meets a boy named Peter and his cats. By chance, she discovers a rare flower that gives her the power of a witch.

Mary ends up going on, what first appears to be, a fun adventure. She meets a colorful cast of characters and is asked to studio at a secret prestigious magic school. Unfortunately for Mary, she soon discovers a terrible plot that the school has been hiding.

That’s pretty much the story right there without spoiling anything. In the end you get a nice story about accepting who you are with some magical flare. It was an excellent children’s film and one that was pretty good from a more adult perspective. There were a few times where I felt a bit bored while watching, but that was likely do to the actual theatre experience (and my lack of sleep from the night before) than anything else.

Speaking of, this was the single worst experience I’ve ever had at the movies.


Remember when I saw Oridinal Scale? I saw Mary and the Witch’s Flower at the same place. Things started well enough, there were actual staff members this time! They were even pleasant. Nobody was openly mocking people for seeing some stupid cartoon movie like that time. However, this was all but an illusion.

Like any sane people, we arrived about 10-20 minutes early to our 7pm showing of the film. We had come from dinner so this allowed everybody a moment to use the restroom and find good seating before the inevitable crowd of people showed up to this medium sized theatre. Good call too, there were a lot of people who decided to come out and see this.

When we got to our seats we soon discovered that the projector was broken. Not only that, apparently the commercials weren’t working any how. The system the use to show the films totally broke in this one room. They got it fixed at five minutes to the film’s start time. For whatever reason, they showed us a full thirty minutes of commercials anyway.

Nobody had told us, or apologized for the inconvenience, but they had bumped up the start time to 7:30pm due to the technical difficulties from before. At this point people are getting kind of irritated. Then they have the audacity to have us sit for 30 minutes in near silence with the same four or so character cards for Mary and the Witch’s Flower cycling with occasional interruptions from some prerecording that the movie was just about to start, “so please silence your cellphones.” That message played four times before the film actually started.

By this point everybody is yelling at the staff, demanding refunds, etc… I’m booing and pretty mad myself. The movie didn’t actually start until 8pm. Want to know how the theatre responded to this, after there was almost a full blown riot? They just told us to go home if we were unhappy and that no refunds would be issued. An absolutely terrible experience.

That being said, the movie was good. Everybody was pretty peeved that the cast interviews and such were at the end of the film (nobody stuck around for that by the way, not after the torturous amount of waiting. If this hadn’t been a special showing, I would have left long before the film started and very vocally demanded a full refund.

Sorry this turned into a story about the film experience itself more than an actual review of the film, but that was pretty eventful. Like I said, the film was good and watching it (once it got going) was pleasant. If you enjoy Ghibli films or films similar, this is sure to land for you.

What are your thoughts on Mary and the Witch’s Flower? Let me know in the comments below. If you would like to support the site, consider becoming a patron of mine. For full details, just click the button below. Thanks for reading, and as always, I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!


23 thoughts on “Mary and the Witch’s Flower – A Fine Film but a Terrible Experience

  1. That totally sucks about the theater, luckily mine was super nice with reclining chairs even if I somehow managed to buy a ticket too close to the screen. I thought the movie was fun though I did think the pacing was a bit too fast and they skipped by a lot of potential world building.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about not seeing your comment earlier, it got sent to the spam folder for some reason :/ Any way, I’m glad you had a nice experience overall. There was definitely a pacing issue and the world building that was done was easily the best part, so I pretty much agree.


  2. Holy hell, that is god awful – I’m amazed the crowd didn’t riot and burn it down! At least the movie sounds fun – been on my radar since I’m a Ghibli fan. Will have to see if there’re showings in Toronto.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You would probably be better off watching this on Blu-ray if the cinema can’t get its act together. I’m surprised they are shut down if this is indicative of their service.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On the one hand, yeah Blu-ray would be better for that, but films like this don’t always come around here so I like to see ’em when I can. Maybe next time the other theatres will get it though…


  4. It’s a real bummer that you had to go through such noisome troubles, but more so because it’ll be this experience that you’ll subconsciously pair with the film. Regardless, I’m still very glad that you managed to remain unbiased in this review, and that you enjoyed the film solely for what it was. I myself cannot wait to see Mary and the Witch’s Flower….but perhaps I’ll just wait for the Blu-ray to come out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m really sorry to hear about your theater experience. They should give refunds to everyone who bothered to watch this movie. Besides that, It’s good to know that Mary and the Witch’s Flower was decent at least. I wondered how the debut work from Ghibli offshoot Studio Ponoc would hold up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, seriously. Very good. I’ll wait until it comes on DVD. I did check out some Ghibli stuff recently. I posted a review of Princess Kaguya last Saturday and I rewatched Grave of the Fireflies a week again after not seeing it in years.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Kaguya is worth watching. Without spoiling the movie or my thoughts, I will say that it has a very unique art style especially for Ghibli. Grave of the Fireflies is definitely one of that studio’s best films and I was shocked by how well it held up to this day even with the older animation. I understand since I’ve been crazy busy this week, too. Just worked 12.5 hours yesterday.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. No idea… it’s the least popular theatre in the area and is typically criminally understaffed. They were doing so well until they weren’t too :/ At least the movie was good or the whole thing would have been incredibly dreadful.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow…that is just insane. They probably have never heard of customer service in that theatre. To not even offer a refund after such a terrible experience is just completely insane. Sorry you had to go through that. Can definitely understand how that can diminish the experience of the film itself, which sounds amazing by the way. Hopefully your next visit to the theatre will be more fun 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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