For a long time Studio Ghibli has been making some of the best films in the world. Animated of not, before there was even a Pixar, Ghibli was crafting films that were far and above what people in states were used to in a animated feature. Fully realized worlds and lush beautiful hand drawn animation bring the world of The Borrowers to life in The Secret World of Arrietty. Like plenty of their earlier films they take themes and stories you might be used to and find a interesting and new way to tell their version of the story.
The film is about a family of very small people who live in the floorboards of a house. They call themselves Borrowers, since they only take small amounts of things that humans would never notice. Arrietty, the 14 year old girl is just becoming of age to join her father on her first borrowing. Recently in the house they live in a young boy named David moves into the house their world is thrown upside when David sees Arrietty. All the while the house keeper is trying to prove that the Borrowers exist and get rid of them.
This film is a fun little story no pun intended, the stakes doesn’t seem as high as it is some of the previous Ghibli films. The quality and craft are still there and the character designs still have the look Hayao Miyazaki’s hand. The characters in this film are very much normal characters with no real displays of magic or transformations to be seen. Hiromasa Yonebayashi does a really good job for his debut feature as director. He paces things well and designs great scenes and shots throughout the tale.
One thing that’s a bit off is the English voice work. While it is in comparison to other English dubbed Anime fantastic the work here feel a bit bland and boring. It felt like some of the life was long when being re-recorded into English. The one standout performance though is that of Carol Burnett as Hara the housekeeper. She’s able to bring a lot of emotion and character through her voice. Will Arnett also does a pretty good job as Arrietty’s father Pod. It’s nice to hear him give a performance that is in a normal state that compared to what he’s been known for since Arrested Development.
For the most part this is a great animated feature and will probably be rewarded later on in the year in awards time. Children will very much entertained by all that is going on here. It has enough fun and comedy along with a great sense of adventure through the film. It also has a great young female protagonist that can really bring you into the story and not played in way that’s sarcastic or annoying that at time hampers some films done in the west. While not one of the truly great Studio Ghibli films like Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away this is a really good one and totally worth seeing.
Final Grade is B+
Originally published on Reel Film News