Pauls Valley, Oklahoma —
Given how little live action television has done to attract any of my attention other than to cancel what few things I did enjoy, I’ve usually been able to find more comfort in the realm of animation. Though I’m more forgiving when it comes to film, some of my highest praise has also gone to the pencil drawn art form, occasionally to a few of the Japanese variety.
Also being a fan of classic children’s literature, I certainly wasn’t going to avoid an adaptation of “The Borrowers,” though this one seemed to fade away a bit quicker than other Studio Ghibli projects like “Spirited Away.” Upon viewing one can tell why as it is not quite as magical, but not lacking the innocent wonder kids could certainly only benefit in watching. While “The Secret World of Arrietty” in some respects feels like it was more an episode of a anime show than something with the flair of cinema, I’d not rule out it being something many will still find reason to cherish.
The story follows the memory retelling of boy named Shawn (David Henrie), who tells of a time when he was sickly and stayed with his Great Aunt Jessica (Gracie Poletti). It doesn’t take him long to discover a certain mystique about the place, created by what appears to be a family of little people living in the home.
Though you wouldn’t be able to tell by the reckless behavior of the lead character of these wee folk, Arrietty (Bridgit Mendler), they actually try to stay hidden most of the time and this unfortunately attracts the attention of the nosy housekeeper Hara (Carol Burnett). Still despite the ramifications, Shawn and Arrietty are able to form a special bond over time and despite the soft nature, is suspenseful enough to make one want to root for a happy ending. What really props this movie up to a better standard is the attention to detail the artists make through how the worlds contrast and the music pleasantly helping the flow.
If anything hurts the movie and it isn’t a terrible amount, it’s how Arrietty’s father Pod (Will Arnett) doesn’t do much other than grunt most of his reactions, not varying and almost not doing much to teach his daughter any real lessons. Perhaps the filmmakers thought her mother Homily (Amy Poehler) did enough overreacting in every situation to cover any character flaws.
Despite that, this is a very tame and honest story and it’s rare when there’s plenty of bad influences to go around. Thus I’d have to say my final verdict for “The Secret World of Arrietty” is three and a half out of five fantasies.
DVD Rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.