The Secret World Of Arrietty
3 1/2 Stars
The Secret World of Arrietty is an animated family fable that's hand-drawn and thus not as flashy as some CGI offerings, but that grows on you little by little.
And little is the operative word here.
The Clock family are miniature people -- 4 inches tall: we're talking tiny -- who live surreptitiously beneath the floorboards in a regular-sized human family's residence in contemporary Tokyo.
Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler), the daughter, is a headstrong 14-year-old who lives with her parents (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett) under a suburban home undetected by anyone in the mansion overhead, including the suspicious housekeeper (Carol Burnett).
That's because the diminutive lodgers remain out of view unless they need to emerge from underneath the floorboards to "borrow" something they really need to survive from their enormous homeowners -- whom they call human "beans" -- such as a tissue or a sugar cube. So they scavenge for food and for household items that won't be missed while they are put to ingenious uses, and they try to stay out of the way of cats, crows, and especially beans.
As we first look in on them, it's that time in life when the tiny teenage title character is about to go out on her first borrowing, accompanied by her dad, for whom the excursion is merely an ordinary errand, while for Arrietty it's both an adventure and a passage.
But all that changes for the Borrowers when a bed-ridden 12-year-old named Shawn (David Henrie), who lives with his great-aunt and has a congenital heart condition, discovers and befriends Arrietty.
When Arrietty's parents learn that they have been discovered, they determine that the Clocks must move out of their host house.
Debuting director Hiromasa Yonebayashi establishes his upstairs-downstairs premise immediately and efficiently, then easily engages his young audience's sense of wonder with both the beauty and danger of nature.
This anime is an English-language version of 2010's top-grossing hit at the Japanese box office, known there as The Borrower Arrietty. It's a perspective-altering delight with a fascinating forced perspective as it explores the theme of the need to investigate the big world out there despite its inherent scariness.
Although it's somewhat more modestly scaled, it's in the tradition of such beloved Japanimated favorites as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Mr. Howl's Castle, and Ponyo, all directed by ani-maestro Hayao Miyazaki.
It's Miyazaki who developed this film and co-wrote the captivating screenplay with Keiko Niwa based on Mary Norton's 1952 children's fantasy novel, The Borrowers, that was turned into a live-action film in 1998. Like those previous versions, this one was inspired by the universal whimsical phenomenon of missing household items and just where they might be disappearing to.
The animation is textured and colorful and generously detailed but delicate, while the thoughtful screenplay speaks to the heart and imagination of children everywhere.
Just a gentle, G-rated, jumbo-shrimp adventure for the kids. The secret's out: The Secret World of Arrietty is more than a little enchanting.
MPAA rating: G.
Running time: 1:35.
Credits: Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi; written by
"The Secret World Of Arrietty" Movie Trailer
<< RETURN TO MOVIE REVIEWS ...
Recent Movie Reviews - Films in Theaters
- This Means War (Michael Phillips)
- This Means War (Bill Wine)
- The Secret World Of Arrietty (Michael Phillips)
- The Secret World Of Arrietty (Bill Wine)
- In Darkness (Kenneth Turan)
- Safe House (Michael Phillips)
- Safe House (Bill Wine)
- The Vow (Michael Phillips)
- The Vow (Bill Wine)
- Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Bill Wine)
- Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Michael Phillips)
- W.E. (Michael Phillips)
- The Woman in Black (Bill Wine)
- The Woman in Black (Michael Phillips)
- Big Miracle (Michael Phillips)
- Big Miracle (Bill Wine)
- Chronicle (Roger Moore)
- Coriolanus (Michael Phillips)
- The Grey (Michael Phillips)
- The Grey (Bill Wine)
- Man on a Ledge (Michael Phillips)
- Man on a Ledge (Bill Wine)
- Albert Nobbs (Sheri Linden)
- Albert Nobbs (Bill Wine)
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Michael Phillips)
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Bill Wine)
- Haywire (Michael Phillips)
- Haywire (Bill Wine)
- Red Tails (Michael Phillips)
- Red Tails (Bill Wine)
- The Flowers of War (Sheri Linden)
- The Iron Lady (Bill Wine)
- The Iron Lady (Michael Phillips)
- Beauty and The Beast 3D (Michael Phillips)
- The Devil Inside (Bill Wine)
- Contraband (Bill Wine)
- Contraband (Michael Phillips)
- Carnage (Bill Wine)
- Joyful Noise (Michael Phillips)
- A Dangerous Method (Bill Wine)
- In the Land of Blood and Honey (Bill Wine)
- In the Land of Blood and Honey (Michael Phillips)
- Pariah (Michael Phillips)
Copyright © 2012 AHN - All Rights Reserved