Movie Review: The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty is a Studio Ghibli animated movie based on the book, The Borrowers. Fourteen-year old Arrietty lives with her mother, Homily, and her father, Pod, under the floorboards in a closet. See, Arrietty and her family are "Borrowers," tiny people who live in the homes of human beings and 'borrow' items (or pieces of items) that they need to survive. However, since they are so small, there are many dangers. Besides cats and crows, the humans themselves are seen as a threat. If a Borrower is seen by a human, they must pack everything up and find a new place to live.

I adore Studio Ghibli movies. Our DVD shelves are stocked with a variety of their titles - My Neighbor Totoro, The Cat Returns, and Ponyo, just to name a few. So when we heard that Arrietty was being released in theaters, my family was pretty excited to see it. (The constant commercials on the Disney Channel were no help either!) I didn't think we would find the time to see it opening weekend, but we managed to fit it in.

With only a 94-minute running time, Arrietty is a fairly short movie. Unfortunately, the lack of any real characterization or conflict due to the time constraints is noticeable. Most of the movie is spent showing how Arrietty and her family borrow things from the 'human beans.' We don't really get to know any of the humans. As a result, the climax of the movie doesn't bring out the emotions that it should. Instead of caring about whether a character lives or dies, the audience is forced to just float along with the story. But don't think that this makes it a terrible movie. On the contrary, it's a nice journey we are taken on. The lovely artwork and gorgeous soundtrack make the blandness of the plot worthwhile. It would just be nicer if there was a bit more meat on this story's bones.