Out & About

February 23, 2012

'Secret World of Arrietty' doesn't rate with Miyazaki classics

Hayao Miyazaki is the recognized genius of Japanese animation, the mastermind behind such films as "Ponyo," "Howl's Moving Castle," "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro."

"The Secret World of Arrietty," however, is only tangentially a Miyazaki film. It was produced by Studio Ghibli, the studio he helped found, and Miyazaki has a co-writer credit, but he did not direct this one, and it doesn't rate with his classics.

Based on Mary Norton's children's classic "The Borrowers," "The Secret World of Arrietty" is certainly not without its strengths.

Hand-drawn with a fine eye for detail (love the occasional ladybug strolling through scenes), the film is visually inventive and charming, and avoids many of the mainstream U.S. animation clichés. There are no talking animals, no Elton John power ballads. Though clearly made for children, it doesn't talk down to kids.

"The Secret World of Arrietty" tells the tale of a family of 4-inch high "borrowers" — little people who survive by borrowing small items (like a sugar cube) from the regular-sized humans whose houses they live in.

Arrietty, voiced by Bridgit Mendler ("Lemonade Mouth"), is a precocious 14-year-old who is quick to ignore her parents' commands to stay out of the garden and out of view of the big folk.

This becomes a problem when a curious but sickly boy moves in with his elderly aunt, catches a glimpse of Arrietty and threatens everything the borrowers hold dear.

Will Arnett ("Arrested Development") and his real-life wife, Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"), voice the parents, Pod and Homily. Arnett plays the role completely straight, almost tersely, which seems appropriate. Poehler's character, however, is almost constantly hysterical.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Steve Ouellette's Movie Reviews

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Entertainment Videos
'The Bachelorette' and Her Beau Go Public Tatum Says Filming 'Foxcatcher' Was 'tortuous' Was That Harry Potter at Comic-Con? Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Uzo Aduba Says Emmy Nod Is 'Crazy' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up Mirren Not Thrilled to Play 'The Queen' on B'way The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office Shawn Mendes Jumps From Vine to the Music Charts Cook Shifts Gears in 'Planes: Fire and Rescue' ShowBiz Minute: Stritch, Marvel, Beyonce ShowBiz Minute: Cole, JWoww, Box Office ShowBiz Minute: Garner, Backstreet, George 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Legendary Actor James Garner Dies
CVPH Job Opportunities