Thursday, April 26, 2012

Movie Review: Secret World of Arrietty

It should be noted that Hayao Miyazaki is one of my animation heroes.  His work as both a storyteller and as an artist has captivated me at every age.  He helped found Studio Ghibli in 1984.  Since then, he's been heavily involved in animated works and is critically acclaimed.

On Tuesday I went to the discount theaters to see The Secret World of Arrietty, a Studio Ghibli movie based off the book the Borrowers.  Sadly, this was not directed by Hayao Miyazaki.  It is directed by newcomer Hiromasa Yonebayashi.  I've never read the borrowers so I can't make a comparison to the book.  Although Arrietty doesn't quite meet the expertise of Miyazaki's films it is a good story with rich animation and smart directing from Hiromasa.

The Secret World of Arrietty is about a young boy named Shawn that travels to the home where his mother grew up.  He has a heart condition and will be getting an operation in the coming days.  Shawn heard his mother tell stories of little people that lived in the walls of the home.  Eventually, we are introduced to Arrietty.  Arrietty is a young Borrower girl living in the foundation of their house.  On the night of her first borrowing, a rite of passage for young borrowers, she is seen by Shawn when trying to nab a tissue.  Arrietty's parents decide they must now move because they've been seen by a human.  Arrietty eventually develops feelings of friendship with Sean and must decide how to handle her situation.

The story is simple but it is heartfelt.  The feelings Arrietty develops for Shawn is believable though they do develop a little quickly.  The characters are interesting and atypical.  I would have liked some better voice acting from the character Shawn.  The other characters do a good job.  Amy Phoehler and Will Arnett (real life husband and wife) are great as Arrietty's parents.

The part of the movie I loved the most (surprise, surprise) was the animation.  The attention to detail was impressive.  The small characters perceive the movements of the giant human beings as massive and slow.  The sounds for them are loud.  Scenes that close up on the borrowers show liquid behaving in ways it doesn't for us.  The painted backgrounds are also very beautiful and colorful.

The story also flows very well with good pacing.  Long scenes involve characters with little to no dialogue.  In some ways this helped the movie.  In other ways, it made you feel a little disconnected as a viewer.  Still, I appreciate Hiromasa's effort to tell a story without relying on dialogue.

All in all, this is a great movie to see with the family.  It's heartfelt with a great message of endurance and moving forward.  It's content is wholesome and completely true to it's G rating.  I recommend.
Concensus: The Secret World of Arrietty is a great story of endurance appropriate for the whole family.  My rating: B


  1. I LOVED the Borrowers as a kid! I'm so glad this thing is in the cheap theaters now! :D

  2. I still haven't seen it. So I didn't read your blog post. Also, I don't trust your ratings anyway. Why? Two words: John Carter. No offense. Still love you!