Bentley's Review of The Secret World of Arrietty
The Secret World of Arrietty was an animated movie I was really looking forward to seeing. As some of you may know, I am a big fan of Studio Ghibli. Due to my schedule and the film's performance here in the States, I didn't have time to see the film on the big screen. Luckily, on my last day of school, my school rented a nearby theater and we were treated to a private Blu-Ray screening of The Secret World of Arrietty. How awesome is that? I don't think this is a Studio Ghibli masterpiece but it is a beautifully animated and moving feature film.
The story is about a family of Borrowers. Borrowers are little people who live underneath the floorboards and "borrow" little things from humans such as sugar cubes or sewing needles in order to survive. Borrowers try their best to be invisible from humans. A young Borrower named Arrietty is spotted by a human boy named Sean and it puts her family in peril. Although Sean wants to start a friendship with her, Arrietty must do what it takes to protect her family. The plot is pretty simple and it is executed very well.
The film is an adaptation of Mary Norton's novel, The Borrowers. I've read it before and I don't remember it much so I won't be comparing the film to the novel. The guys at Studio Ghibli are amazing storytellers and they brought this world to life beautifully. The world in this film is very fun to watch. I loved seeing the Borrowers use the things they find. For example, they use sewing needles as swords, earrings as grappling hooks, you get it. It's pretty cute. The artwork in this film is dazzling. I loved how detailed the Borrowers' home was and the outdoor scenes were just wow. They looked beautiful. When it comes to animation, Studio Ghibli never fails.
Despite not being the director, Hayao Miyazaki penned the script. He obviously wrote it in Japanese and I saw the English dub so I can't critique the original script. The script they wrote for American audiences was very well written. There were a lot of funny moments and lot of emotional ones. The voice acting was pretty good. Arrietty is played by Bridgit Mendler and she did a good job. She gave the character her personality. She was spunky and heartfelt. David Henrie does a good job as Sean. The character goes through a lot in the film and Henrie's voice acting shows it. Enough with the Disney Channel stars. Let's go over the A-listers. Will Arnett does the voice of Arrietty's father. In my opinion, it sounded like he was doing an impression of Kevin Conroy's Batman. Arrietty's mother is played Will Arnett's wife, Amy Poehler. She also did a good job. She brought humor and compassion to her character. I think the one who did the best was Carol Burnett as Hara. She stole the show and was very funny. The film doesn't feature the most amazing voice acting I've ever heard and the dubbing looked a little off in some parts but it was overall a well done job.
I definitely agree with the RT consensus. The movie is free from family-friendly clatter. It's good to see a traditionally animated film be released in a time where most animated films are all CG and loaded with pop culture references. The audience I went to see this movie with seemed to be taking the film pretty seriously. They were mostly quiet and seem to be absorbing the movie's story and atmosphere. There were some giggles here and there but there was something that Hara said that made the audience laugh out loud. The ending of this movie is pretty emotional and I believe that I did shed one tiny tear. If not, then I was pretty close to crying. The song at the end, "Summertime" by Bridgit Mendler, was a cute little tune about friendship that warmed my heart. The Secret World of Arriety is another charming, heartfelt, and entertaining film from Studio Ghibli. I don't think it's as good as Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro but I still enjoyed it. The last line of the film also wraps up the film perfectly. A great tale of family and friendship and a must-see for those who enjoy quality animated films.
"Sometimes it's best to not go looking for danger."