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Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, David Henrie ... see more see more... , Moises Arias , Mirai Shida , Ryunosuke Kamiki , Tomokazu Miura , Kirin Kiki , Shinobu Ôtake

Arrietty (Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her hous... read more read more...ekeeper (Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to "borrow" scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty's family from the home and straight into danger. -- (C) Disney

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94% liked it

122 critics

DVD Release Date: May 22, 2012

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Flixster Reviews (2,590)

  • May 8, 2013
  • December 30, 2012
    Japanese version of the Borrowers.
  • November 9, 2012
    The stories of the little people was originally conceived in the book series "The Borrowers" about a group of tiny people who would "Borrow" small things from people that they need. 50 years after the novel was written, Director Hayao Miyazaki decided to do his take on this story... read more.

    The story is about a young boy with medical problems named Shawn (David Henrie) being sent to his moms childhood house where she was told stories of small people who lived under the floor. He sees a strange creature when he is outside when he first arrives and thinks it looks like a little person. This creature ends up actually being a little person, a 14 year old girl named Arriety (Bridgit Mendler) who lives with her two parents (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) who are borrowers who are small people who "Borrow things such as soap, cookies, and other small things that humans don't need when they disappear. Shawn ends up seeing Arriety on her first night of "Borrowing" and his curiosity was picked very far when she drops sugar in his room and he drops it off in the hole near her house. Arriety questioning this is told not to take the sugar because her father thinks its a trap but she sneaks out and ends up becoming friends with Shawn.

    Like many of Ghiblis movies as I said before, usually get heavily Disney associated actors such as David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place and Moises Arias who was on Hannah Montana. But this movie also like Ghiblis other movies get moderately big actors or much older actors, such as in this film they got Carol Burnett, and Amy Poelher and Will Arnett. All of them do regular great jobs and one actor I think does the best job overall is surprisingly David Henrie as Shawn. He has such an innocent and monotone voice that it is impossible not to feel sorry for him when you find out about what is wrong with him and you feel horrible for all the things that are happening to him. He's both a sympathetic character and a very emotional character, and Henrie pulls this off flawlessly well. Bridget Mendler does a good job as Arriety, being sweet and pulls off the teenage girl getting to figure out the big world very well. Arnett and Poelher both do good as Arriety's parents and it shows due to these two being married in real life and you believe they do care for Arriety and are both believable as these two characters. Carol Burnett is shockingly not that memorable in this movie, she plays the character of Hara, a woman who takes care of Shawn but is obsessed with catching the little people. Maybe its because the character is really not developed that well, but Burnett doesn't really have much to work with with this character in the film, unlike the other elderly actresses that Miyazaki has chosen before such as Suzanne Pleshette in Spirited Away or Lauren Bacall in Howl's Moving Castle.

    The animation, again like all of Miyazaki's other animated pictures is incredible, and for a movie with perspectives of smaller people to much larger people and animals leads to some very good eye candy to see in a Miyazaki movie. But other than that there isn't much really to talk about in terms of the animation.

    One thing I will say about this movie is that is quite possibly one of the emotional films that I've seen in a while, and one of those reasons is because of the music, the music in this movie are brilliantly done and the film has little to none of it, but they know when to use it to the films advantage, and it works incredibly well when it is used. Using piano music about 80% of the time also helps.

    Overall this is so far the best film that I've seen this year and it is definitely a wonderful film to go see, and it is one of the few movies to make me cry at the end, and it is quite possibly Studio Ghiblis most well told story out of all their films. My only problem I have with this movie is that the film does have a somewhat slow pace for a animated movie especially for a 90 minute animated film, but everything is all done extremely well and it is definitely one of Ghiblis best.

    Review originally written 2/26/12
  • August 22, 2012
    While not entirely a Miyazaki film, he is only credited as the co-writer here, it definitely carries some of his signature themes and would nestle up well with the other Ghibli films that you have on your shelf.

    It focuses on the plight of Arrietty, a young woman who is one in a... read more long line of little people known as "borrowers", as she timidly navigates her way through this big, and mean big, scary world. Along the way she befriends a sickly human boy named Sho, who borrowers are supposed to be very leery of. and together they form an unlikely kinship that gives them each the fortitude to fight for their very survival. Having the film centered around a very little girl isn't only just a fun way to tell a story, it also cleverly elaborates on the fears of being young and making your own stamp on this world. There are just so many potential dangers out there that finding your place in it can be quite a daunting task.

    Unfortunately for adults like Haru, a maid hellbent on discovering these little people. many adults no longer desire to embrace the magical nature of the world around them. She only wants to exploit it to defend her own sanity in the eyes of her peers.

    However, other then a clever way to tell a coming of age story, this film really lacked a spark. It lacked vitality. The story at times felt like it was moving at a snail's pace and I wished that director Hiromasa Yonebayashi would have spent a little more time on fleshing out either Arrietty or Sho. Focusing on both of them seemed to shortchange any chance of really getting me involved in these character's lives.

    Another problem that I had with the film, aside from the fact that they call themselves "borrowers" even though it is clear they have no intention of returning the products they STEAL, was the music. I have a feeling that during its conversion to the English language, subtlety got lost in translation. The music is often so on the nose tonally and lyrically that it was almost comical. When someone is sad, the music quickly sweeps in with some bad Lifetime Network score. I'm not necessarily blaming the filmmakers on this one, but someone along the line really blew it.

    It is starting to get redundant in my reviews, but seriously the animation is astounding. It is especially impressive here as this film features a great deal of action. The action is accompanied by an excellent sound design. As the film frequently changes perspectives from the little people to the full sized human brings, so does the sound and it is a really smart and exciting touch.

    So while not the most groundbreaking film, like all Ghibli, it is smart, visually breath-taking, and completely worth your time.
  • August 22, 2012
    Tender sweet story, engaging characters, gracefully paced, harmonious score, and gorgeous animation. Another quality effort from Studio Ghibli.
  • July 28, 2012
    Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote, planned, and executive produced 2012?s THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY, has some potential to create a Japanimation that is a brilliant, dazzling classic. He did this profoundly just a decade ago with SPIRITED AWAY. The reason that film is such a memorab... read morele piece of art is because it is a high fantasy that puts us into the young female lead's shoes and gives us an experience of equal parts exhilarating adventure and bewildering fear. Although the picture is well done in terms of entertainment, and there is a decent amount of escapade as well as a sense of worry, especially near the end, it seems to handle the fantasy genre in a too much more upbeat, wholesome manner. I don't mean to cast any aspersions on G rated movies; you know that when the MPAA slaps a PG certificate on thoroughly harmless family movies such as UP and THE MUPPETS, this may just be one of the very last films to carry a G rating before it disappears. The story seems to be plotted out quite uneventfully, to the point where I can't see anyone over the age of nine finding it as altogether mesmerizing as SPIRITED AWAY. Hence the title: it's her secret world, not her awe-inspiring world. Because of its solid voice performances (in this U.S. dub) and its bright visual atmosphere, it's entertaining, at best.

    "borrow" the review at
  • June 28, 2012
    Studio Gibli always makes the best animation.
  • June 25, 2012
    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... read more 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."
  • June 24, 2012
    If you need further proof as to why computer generated animation can never replace the beauty and charm of the classic two-dimensional, hand crafted kind; see "The Secret World of Arrietty."

    Studio Ghibli's latest is simple, sweet, and heartwarming fun that will enamor ... read moreboth adults and children alike. From it's fully realized characters, to it's soothing, breezy tone; and all the way up to it's bittersweet conclusion... "Arrietty" never misses a beat.
  • May 9, 2012
    There's a elegance in the narrative's simplicity. Part of the story focuses on the missions that these "borrowers" go on to obtain articles like sugar and tissue for the family to use. The point of view of the little people is perfectly captured. There's beauty in how these chara... read morecters accomplish their objectives. Arrietty's father's use of double stick tape and mittens to scale a wall is quaintly beautiful. But where is the excitement? Not a whole lot happens. There's a storyline involving a sickly 12 year old boy named Shawn who comes to stay at the place while awaiting heart surgery. His friendship with Arrietty is a dramatic subplot and although it's poignant, it never develops into anything particularly exciting. Then there's Hara, an older female caretaker of the home. She provides some conflict, but she ends up becoming more of a nuisance than an actual threat. Nevertheless this is a welcome addition to the Studio Ghibli cannon. The details are what makes this so captivating. Despite the somewhat listless plot, The Secret World of Arrietty is an enchanting delight.

Critic Reviews

Deborah Young
January 7, 2013
Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

The fresh and simple story will win its share of young fans, though it lacks the disturbing adult elements might have attracted older audiences. Full Review

Ben Sachs
January 7, 2013
Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader

[The film] pulses with feeling for childhood and nature and develops a surprising amount of suspense considering it takes place around a single suburban home. Full Review

Peter Rainer
February 17, 2012
Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

The Secret World of Arrietty is a marvelously captivating animated feature about very tiny people and the full-scale world they inhabit. Full Review

Ian Buckwalter
February 17, 2012
Ian Buckwalter, The Atlantic

Yonebayashi gives Arrietty an excellent sense of balance, with the adventure aspects of the story, which feel legitimately dangerous providing well-paced contrast the film's more placid moments. Full Review

Rafer Guzman
February 17, 2012
Rafer Guzman, Newsday

It's an enjoyable and attractive-looking film, but a little of that "Speed Racer" energy wouldn't have been such a bad thing. Full Review

Stephen Whitty
February 17, 2012
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

The visual details are inventive, and the animation - particularly the colors - is lovely. Full Review

Jody Mitori
February 17, 2012
Jody Mitori, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"The Secret World of Arrietty" proves that imagination still matters amid all the clamor. Full Review

Lou Lumenick
February 17, 2012
Lou Lumenick, New York Post

"The Secret World of Arrietty'' is a feast for the eyes that will engage the entire family. Full Review

Liam Lacey
February 17, 2012
Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

The Secret World of Arrietty is sweet fun, an astute match of exquisite style and small content. Full Review

Amy Joyce
February 17, 2012
Amy Joyce, Washington Post

This gorgeous little movie is sure to be beloved by your little people, who may discover what it means to find a magical beauty in the things we can't altogether see. Full Review

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    • Pod (English version): Borrowers take only what they need.
    • Shawn (English version): It's funny how each day you wake up and never really know if it will be one that will change your life forever.
    • Shawn (English version): My name's Shawn. What's yours?
    • Arrietty (English version): Not that it's any of your business, but it's Arietty.
    • Shawn (English version): You've given me the courage to live. [right before operation]
    • Shawn (English version): When I saw you, I just wanted to find a way to protect you.
    • Arrietty (English version): [quietly] Yay!

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