The Secret World of Arrietty took a long path to American theaters: it was first released in 2010 in Japan, and then in the U.K. 2011 with all British voice actors. Now Arrietty is being released in the U.S., redubbed with American voice actors. Although the presence of Japanese writing on various boxes betrays the fact that the movie is set in Japan, the film has definitely been “Americanized”: the main boy in the film is now named Shawn, although Arrietty’s name has not been changed. It’s also one of those rare movies that is marketed towards younger children, but is actually more meant for adults and older kids; the younger kids in the screening I went to started getting restless throughout it, as you really need to listen to the dialogue to understand the film.
Shawn (voiced by David Henrie, TV’s Wizards of Waverly Place) has been sent to his great aunt’s house in order to get some rest before his heart operation; his mother, a busy businesswoman, is currently out of town. His aunt and her housekeeper, Hara (voiced by Carol Burnett, TV’s All My Children), tell him about the “little people” that live under the floorboards, and how his mother was always certain they existed but they never actually saw them. Meanwhile, Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler, TV’s Wizards of Waverly Place), one of these “little people,” actually does live under the floorboards, with her parents (voiced by Amy Poehler, TV’s Parks and Recreation, and her real-life husband, Will Arnett, 30 Rock), and they are “borrowers”: they survive by borrowing little things that the “beings” (humans) won’t miss, such as tissue paper and sugar cubes.
Arrietty has just turned fourteen, and her dad takes her with him one night for her first “borrowing”; unfortunately, Shawn sees Arrietty, and becomes even more intrigued by the borrowers. Arrietty’s parents decide they must now move, since bad things always happen to borrowers when the “beings” see them, even though Arrietty assures them that Shawn is an ally, not an enemy.
This film is a type of Japanese anime (animation), and the scenery in it was beautiful. It was a little disconcerting at first when the words that the characters spoke didn’t entirely line up with what their mouths were speaking, but you soon overlook that. The detailing in the film is great as well; when Arrietty sneaks outside during a rainstorm to collect some plants, you can see the raindrops sliding off of her body. The characters in the movie all have their own unique personalities as well, though I have to say that Arrietty’s mom (voiced by Poehler) was a bit annoying, especially when she screeched. Hara, the housekeeper, ends up having a bit of an evil side to her, though some may argue that it’s just curiosity about the “little people” under the floors.
Maybe see this film. I was surprised to find out that it’s geared more towards older children (10+) and adults, rather than younger children, and since it doesn’t have 3D, some of the younger ones may find themselves being bored during it. There were a few slow scenes throughout, but in general the movie kept my attention. There was a movie done in 1997 called The Borrowers (with John Goodman) that was basically this movie on a real-life scale, however Arrietty puts in a new twist on the story by using anime and very detailed characters; I also really enjoyed the music throughout.
The Secret World of Arrietty is currently in theaters, and is rated G with a runtime of 94 minutes.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5