Film Review “The Secret World of Arrietty”

Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 94 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Click here for our interview with Bridgit Mendler (voice of Arrietty)
Click here for our interview with Cécile Corbel (Composer)

This film is the latest from Japan’s Studio Ghibli, releasing under Walt Disney Pictures, like “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle”. The film is loosely based on Mary Norton’s novel “The Borrowers” and was co-written by the legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. If you are fan of Ghibli films then you will see Miyazaki’s hands all throughout this film. Hiromasa Yonebayashi is making his directorial debut with this film, also becoming the youngest director of a Studio Ghibli film, but don’t worry it is beautifully done and perfectly executed. I have been a fan of Ghibli’s films for over 20 years and this is by far one of the best to come out in recent years. This will entertain families both old and young with its extremely vibrant animation and overall fun story. It will also easily be a runner for Best Animated Picture in next year’s Oscars.

The story tells the tale of a family of four-inch-tall people, called Borrowers, who live hidden about the humans or beans as they are called in the film. They survive by borrowing only what they need to survive and only items that will not be missed. On the first night that the young girl Arrietty (Mendler) goes borrowing with her father, they are spotted by a bean and their lives will never be the same. The human is a sick young boy named Shawn, that is very sweet and friendly. Unfortunately, his Great Aunt Hara does not have the same feeling and seeks to have them captured.

The film was originally voiced by Japanese actors but Disney made sure to get an all-star cast for it’s English dubbing. Bridgit Mendler, known best for her role in Disney Channel’s “Good Luck Charlie”, is a perfect fit for Arrietty. She is very sweet and really does the role justice. Another Disney Channel alumni from “Wizard of Waverly Place”, David Henrie voices Shawn (changed from Shô in the Japanese release). He is soft spoken, gentle and well performed overall. Amy Poehler playing Arrietty’s mother, Homily and Carol Burnett playing the Great Aunt Hara really nail the comedy in the film and really bring the funny. The kids will love their jokes the most.

What I like most about Studio Ghibli films is that they do not rush and I will explain what I mean. When they approach a scene, they take their time and let it develop. If there is a close up on a character it is subtle, still and packs real emotion. The colors in the film are so sharp and the animation is so beautifully drawn. It is very refreshing to watch a hand drawn animation, especially with all the perfectly polished CG animated films as of late. I would like to close with my favorite part of the film…it’s score. It is honestly one my favorite scores that I have heard in a while. It is written and performed by the very talented French singer/songwriter, Cécile Corbel. She also wrote the film’s theme song “Arrietty’s Song”, which is nothing short of breathtaking. Fans of Studio Ghibli and all animation in general need to check out this film immediately and enjoy its simplicity and beauty.

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