The Borrower Arrietty (reviews - page 2)
The Christian Science Monitor
17 February 2012
Disney's 'The Secret World of Arrietty': movie review
'The Secret World of Arrietty' is a supernal coming-of-age story. The movie's hushed mystery and lyricism casts a hypnotizing spell.
By Peter Rainer
"The Secret World of Arrietty" is a marvelously captivating animated feature about very tiny people and the full-scale world they inhabit. It originates with Japan's Studio Ghibli. Disney is distributing its English-language version. Studio Ghibli, you may recall, is the dream factory cofounded by Hayao Miyazaki, the genius behind such classics as "Princess Mononoke," "Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle," and "Ponyo."
"Arrietty" was co-written by Miyazaki and directed by his protégé Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Gary Rydstrom directed the English-language version. The English-language screenplay, in which new dialogue by American voice-over actors had to painstakingly match the mouth movements of the animated characters speaking Japanese, was written by Karey Kirkpatrick.
They should all be commended for a job entrancingly well done. Most animated movies these days are computer-generated, cacaphonous, and tricked up in 3-D. "Arrietty," by contrast, has a hushed mysteriousness. Its becalmed lyricism is a balm.
The source material is the acclaimed children's book series "The Borrowers," by Mary Norton, which has been filmed before, most notably as a 1993 British miniseries and as an underrated 1997 film starring John Goodman and Jim Broadbent. In this version, 14-year-old Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler) lives with her mother and father (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett) under the floorboards of an old country cottage. When Arrietty encounters Shawn (David Henrie), a sickly human boy convalescing in the house, she opens up a portal into the big-people world that threatens both their lives and the lives of her parents.
The tiny people, who call themselves "borrowers," have always made it a cardinal rule not to get involved with humans. And yet Arrietty is irresistibly drawn to that world, not only because of Shawn but because of the sheer bigness of everything she encounters. It's a supernal coming-of-age story. Arrietty doesn't hold back. On a maiden excursion with her father into the aboveboard household, she takes to the expedition like a crack mountaineer. She stands up to grasshoppers and rats and scurries along rickety parapets. A discarded pin becomes her sword.
As daring as Arrietty is, she is matched by the cronish housekeeper Haru, who vows to rid the place of the little "pests." In a great piece of casting, Haru is voiced by Carol Burnett, whose gift for low-down comic villainy has never been put to better use. The familiarity of Burnett's voice should by all rights yank us out of the movie's magical realm, but the reverse is true. She's like an old friend – a welcoming committee in a strange land.
The lyricism of the imagery is all of a piece with its sound design. The whoosh of wind and the creaking of cottage and countryside cast a spell that is hypnotic. "Arrietty" lulls us into a heightened consciousness where everything in life is animistic. Grade: A (Rated G)
The Fandom Post
18 February 2012
By Mark Thomas
With the same adventurous, coming-of-age spirit of Kiki’s Delivery Service, the newest anime product of Studio Ghibli entertains in the way only Miyazaki knows how.
What They Say: Residing quietly beneath the floorboards are little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered, where the smallest may stand tallest of all. From the legendary Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”) comes “The Secret World of Arrietty,” an animated adventure based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series “The Borrowers.”
Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of 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 (voice of 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.
The Review: Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers) As a longtime fan of the movies by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, it didn’t take much convincing to get me to go check out The Secret World of Arrietty on opening night. Based on the 1952 English children’s novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton, The Secret World of Arrietty finds a wonderful balance between the themes of the novel and the imaginative magic that is the hallmark of any Miyazaki movie (even if he only wrote it and didn’t direct). Reminiscent of Kiki’s Delivery Service in tone and theme, The Secret World of Arrietty is a delight from start to finish, sure to entertain the child in all of us.
Living under the floor of an old house, down a quiet county road, are Pod, Homily, and Arrietty—a family of Borrowers. Borrowers are tiny people who “borrow” food, knick-knacks, and other small items from human “beans” in order to survive. They hide in every nook and cranny the human eye can’t see, and only take what they need and what the Beans won’t miss. At one time, many Borrowers lived in this house, but Arrietty’s family is all that is left.
She is too excited to worry about that right now, however. She has just turned fourteen, and it is now time to begin accompanying her father and learn the art of Borrowing. Not liking to be stuck in the box they call a home, she has ventured out on her own sometimes, but never too far. Now she is getting the opportunity to explore the entire house, and she quickly proves that she is a natural at it. But before her adventure can end in complete success, she is seen by a young boy who is new to the household. While he tries to assure her that he has no wish to harm them, once seen, Borrowers must move on before natural human curiosity takes over and threatens their existence.
At its heart, The Secret World of Arrietty is a coming-of-age story. Arrietty is still a child, but circumstances are forcing her to grow up quickly in order to protect her family. She considers it her own fault that the family is forced to move, but while she accepts her fate, she finds herself drawn to the boy (Shawn) and is desperate to trust him when he tries to help out. It is part of what makes Arrietty such a great protagonist. She is growing up and has a strong sense of her responsibilities, but her youthful exuberance allows her to take the risks that her parents would never dream of taking.
She’s also fascinating from a personality perspective. As can be typical of an only female child, Arrietty has a bit of a tom-boyish flair. She has spent her whole life yearning to join in the Borrowing (man’s work) that she often doesn’t pay close attention to detail in the domestic chores (woman’s work). While her mother is content to stay back and perform the traditional role of a wife and mother, Arrietty would rather join her father in exploring the house for the materials they need.
And yet despite this, she never really loses her sense of being a girl. She enjoys dressing up, even when she’s out Borrowing, and she’s not completely lost when helping her mother. She is a protagonist who breaks the traditional barriers of gender roles without forgetting the parts of being a girl that she enjoys. While many tomboys in fiction are female in biology only, she is most definitely a female that wants more than her stereotype wants to allow her.
For this, I’d compare Arrietty to Kiki—the titular protagonist of the early Miyazaki title, Kiki’s Delivery Service. In fact, when it comes to themes, The Secret World of Arrietty is very similar to Kiki’s Delivery Service. For starters, both Arrietty and Kiki are young, willful girls thrust into situations where they are forced to begin thinking and acting beyond their years. For Kiki, it is learning to survive on her own and deal with failure; for Arrietty, it’s learning to bear the responsibility for her mistakes and come through for her family when they need her most.
They are very similar in tone as well. Like Kiki, The Secret World of Arrietty is a movie filled with child-like wonder. It isn’t quite as innocent as a movie like My Neighbor Totoro, because Arrietty is older and faces greater danger, but there is still that same sense of curiosity and the joys of discovery. I’ve never really been able to describe the feeling of a Miyazaki movie, but if you have seen one, then you know what I am talking about. There is a scene right after Arrietty is seen where she picks up a woodlouse, which promptly rolls into a ball for protection, and she lightly tosses it in the air as one might a basketball. It’s a beautiful scene that envelops the world and everything that is happening to Arrietty perfectly, and it epitomizes the feeling that Miyazaki puts into his movies. Miyazki didn’t direct The Secret World of Arrietty, but I have no doubt that he gave a lot of input to Hiromasa Yonebayashi (who made his directorial debut here).
What this all means is that while Arrietty faces all sorts of danger and disaster, there’s never a point in the movie where the viewers feel any real fear. As a writer and writing teacher, I’d normally say that is a huge problem, but that’s not the point in Miyazaki’s movies. We’re supposed to feel more interested in the unique ways his heroes and heroines solve their problems. So even when Homily is captured by the housekeeper Hara, we don’t panic and instead just sit back and enjoy the bravery and ingenuity of Arrietty to put everything right again.
In Summary: I have always struggled to discuss Hayao Miyazaki’s movies rationally, particularly the juvenile and children’s movies. They touch me on a level so deep, that I really can’t find the words to accurately describe it. The Secret World of Arrietty is no different. From the moment the movie started to the very end of the credits, I was completely absorbed by the world and the atmosphere. It was delightful and brilliant and my only regret was that it was over. If I could, I’d already have the BluRay release preordered. If you like Miyazaki, then you need to see this. If you haven’t experienced Miyazaki, then you also need to see this. You won’t be disappointed. Highly recommended.
Content Grade: A+
28 July 2011
Arrietty - review
The latest offering from Japan's Studio Ghibli is a gentle, entrancing version of The Borrowers
By Steve Rose
Compared to flashier 3D animated kids' movies, this hand-drawn tale might seem antiquated, but if you'd rather your child left the cinema with a sense of wonder than an ambition to become a monster-truck driver, this is for you. It's produced by Japan's eminent Studio Ghibli, and although it doesn't match previous hits such as Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke in terms of epic scale or adult appeal, it bears many of their hallmarks: bright, detailed animation, earnest escapism and a plucky young heroine. The scale is the opposite of epic, in fact: the film is based on Mary Norton's 1950s Borrowers novels, in which miniature people live like mice under the floorboards. Here, the simple acquisition of a sugar cube takes on the suspense of a bank heist. Arrietty herself is a mini-teen curious to fly the family nest and learn more about the world, armed with a pin for a sword. But her illicit friendship with a sickly human boy threatens her family's secret existence and teaches her a thing or two about compatibility. It's a gentle and entrancing tale, deeper and richer than more instantly gratifying fare. Think of it as the slow food of the animation world.
The Hollywood Reporter
4 November 2010
By Deborah Young
There are fairies in the garden in Studio Ghibli’s latest classy anime targeted at kids.
Venue - Rome Film Festival (Out of Competition)
ROME - Though its Studio Ghibli pedigree doesn’t lie and this finely crafted anime film exudes the charming otherworldliness of Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki, who co-scripted “Arrietty” remains essentially a film for children. Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a top Ghibli animator who did some of the breathtaking work on Miyazaki’s “Ponyo By the Sea,” makes a very dignified directing debut here, ably drawing viewers into the friendship between a human boy and a girl the size of Tom Thumb. The fresh and simple story will win its share of young fans, though it lacks the disturbing adult elements might have attracted older audiences. Based on Mary Norton’s famed fantasy novels The Borrowers set in 1950’s England, the story was adapted by Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and put on a shelf for some 40 years before being dusted off for production. The Borrowers, aka the Little People, are a vanishing race of fairy-like creatures who live under the kitchen floor of a house in the country. The 14-year-old Arrietty, who is hardly bigger than a teacup, lives with her father Pod and mother Homily and helps them survive by borrowing/stealing odd bits of food from the elderly spinster upstairs.
One day Sho, a little boy soon to have a heart operation, comes to the idyllic house to rest. His loneliness and sadness vanish when he accidentally catches a glimpse of Arrietty in the garden. He promises to protect her, but actually sets off a chain of events that force the Borrowers family to embark on a dangerous move to a new home. Nonetheless, the contact between Sho and Arrietty, fleeting as it is, touches the heartstrings with gentle yearning.
Yonebayashi directs with a sure but delicate hand, creating a delightful world devoid of traditional magic, but magical nonetheless. It is no surprise that the kind and selfless Sho (voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki) falls for lovely, courageous Arietty (Mirai Shida), who unlike her parents is unafraid of humans and cats. Both make fine role models for younger viewers.
Though strangely devoid of humor, the film has an enormous amount of visual charm. Animators went wild designing a miniscule but homey underground universe, and the scene when Arrietty’s father takes the girl through the woodwork on her first “borrowing” mission upstairs is pure adventure.
Nowhere is there a sense of real danger to the Borrowers. Even Sho’s potentially fatal heart condition is underplayed. Though this will keep the nightmares away from the little people in the audience, it robs the film of tension.
The English subtitles on the print screened at the Rome Film Festival were marred by a recurrent mistranslation of “human beings” as “human beans,” lending the film its only (and inadvertent) comic touch.
Production company: Studio Ghibli Cast: Mirai Shida, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Shinobu Otake, Keiko Takeshita, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Tomokazu Miura, Kirin Kiki Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi Screenwriters: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa Based on a novel by Mary Norton Producer: Toshio Suzuki Executive producer: Koji Hoshino Production designers: Yoji Takeshige, Noboru Yoshida Music: Cecile Corbel Animation supervisor: Megumi Kagawa, Akihiko Yamashita Editor: Rie Matsubara Sales Agent: Wild Bunch No rating, 94 minutes
21 February 2012
By Zorianna Kit
Just as there are those who look forward to every new Pixar animated film, there are also those who cannot wait for the new releases from Japan's Studio Ghibli. Like the Pixar pics, Studio Ghibli's film are also instant classics from My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away to Ponyo just to name a few.
Where Pixar is led by John Lassiter's genius, Ghibli has co-founder Hayao Miyazaki to spearhead its vision. One of the best animators of all time, Miyazaki directed the aforementioned films, won an Oscar for Spirited Away and continues to win awards and raves for his other films like Howl's Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, among others.
Obviously good animators know good animation and it's no secret Lassiter and Miyazaki are friends who admire each others' work. Disney, which distributes Pixar films, also has the rights to all of Ghibli's films. As chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, Lassiter has been an executive producer of some of those Ghibli films' U.S. versions, overseeing their English language dubbing and being instrumental in exposing them to a larger audience. (Anyone notice the plush Totoro in Toy Story 3?)
Now comes another Studio Ghibli film released by Disney, and like the previous ones, it deserves your attention as well: The Secret World of Arrietty, based on Mary Norton's children's book series The Borrowers, is about a tiny family who are part of a secret world of four-inch people who live underneath the floorboards of homes, "borrowing" things they need from human "beans" that won't be missed.
The borrowers live carefully, so as to never be seen by humans, but when one particular family's daughter, Arrietty, befriends the new sick human boy who's just arrived to the house, the family feels their lives are now in danger and pack up to move. Unfortunately, the damage to their lives begins before they can leave.
As with all Ghibli films, whether it is tiny people in Arrietty, a goldfish princess in Ponyo, or forest spirits in Totoro, the fantastical living in tandem with normal humans never feels weird or questionable. And though you never know where it's going and how it's going to end up, the ride is always interesting because nothing ever feels contrived or predictable. Rather there is a quiet gentleness and a deep beauty that resonates no matter if you're a child or an adult. It speaks to all without needing to be labeled a particular genre -- other than animation.
And the animation is breathtaking. Not in that computer animated we-see-every-piece of hair-follicle-sway-in-the-wind, but more like a Matisse painting come to life. Miyazaki did not direct this one, but was instrumental in the planning and the writing of the screenplay. He hired first-time filmmaker Hirosama Yonebashi [sic], officially the youngest director in the Ghibli fold, and the result is a stunning world that forces viewers to take the surroundings they often take for granted and see them from an awesomely, overwhelming perspective of a tiny borrower. Electrical outlets become passageways from one side of the wall to another, a teakettle is a boat, a human needle becomes Arrietty's sword and duct tape on the bottom of her father's shoes enables him to climb the side of cabinet.
When Arrietty was released in Japan, it became the country's highest grossing film at the box office that year with 12 million people turning out to see it.
Creating an English dub was challenging because Japanese sounds are longer than American ones and tend to end with an open vowel. That means the animated characters' mouths are usually open at the end of a sentence. Screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick (The Spiderwick Chronicles) had to write an English screenplay using words that not only fit the mouth movements set forth by the existing animation, but construct sentences to fit the length of the longer Japanese sentences. That must not have been easy, but the final product on screen makes it look like it was never even an issue.
The British version sees Arrietty voiced by Saorise Ronan (The Lovely Bones) with Mark Strong and Olivia Coleman as her parents. The U.S. version utilizes the Disney machine, populating the film with its roster of Disney Channel stars in the kids roles. There is Brigit Mendler (Good Luck Charlie) as Arrietty, David Henrie (The Wizards of Waverly Place) as the human boy she befriends and Moises Arias of Hanna Montana as a young borrower named Spiller. All are to be commended for their work.
Real-life husband and wife Amy Poehler and Will Arnett play Arrietty's parents with Arnett showing a restraint and gravitas not previously heard on screen. Carol Burnett as housekeeper Haru is hilarious in that same way that made her Miss Hannigan character in the 1982 Annie film so delightful and memorable.
The music in the film is sung by French singer/songwriter Cecile Corbel, whose voice is as lush and as beautiful as the scenery she's paired with. It's enough to make anyone rush out and buy the CD soundtrack.
16 July 2010
By Mark Schilling
Studio Ghibli is often assumed to be the animation house that Hayao Miyazaki built, but Miyazaki has directed only nine of its 17 features to date. Four were made by studio cofounder Isao Takahata and four by four different directors. These latter four, however, are all immediately identifiable as Studio Ghibli products, from their spunky teenage protagonists to their pictorial realism in everything from the play of shadows through the trees to the raising of sticky windows.
The latest, "Kari-gurashi no Arietty (The Borrowers)," features direction by veteran Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi and a script by Miyazaki himself. It is a simply told, beautifully animated delight that, like the best Ghibli films, speaks straight to the heart and imagination of the child in all of us.
Like the 2008 "Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea)," which was directed by Miyazaki's son Goro from a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, "Arietty" is based on a classic of British children's fantasy literature: Mary Norton's 1952 novel "The Borrowers." But whereas "Gedo Senki," as well as much of Miyazaki's own oeuvre, is full-bore fantasy, with magical powers, mythical beasts and all the rest, "Arietty" unfolds in a present-day Japan in which no one but birds can fly. True, its 14-year-old title heroine (voiced by Mirai Shida), together with her mother Homily (Shinobu Otake) and father Pod (Tomokazu Miura), stand only 10 cm tall, but these "tiny people" are ordinary in every other respect.
Living under the floorboards of a house in the Tokyo suburbs inhabited by the elderly Sadoko (Keiko Takeshita) and her wizened housekeeper Haru (Kirin Kiki), they "borrow" everything they need to live from their human hosts, in amounts so small they are barely noticed.
Pod is a sturdy, stoic, resourceful sort who carries out his nighttime "borrowing" missions like a veteran mountain climber, methodically scaling the heights of the kitchen with a fishing hook and string. He is also handy with tools, making everything the family needs for its survival and comfort, though the worry-wart Homily is constantly fretting about the threats all around them — the most dangerous being discovery by their human hosts.
The slender but athletic Arietty is more her father's child than her mother's, fearlessly exploring the house and its lush garden while fending off Sadoko's fat cat, a pesky crow and a variety of insects. Then she is spotted by Sho (Ryunosuke Kamiki), Sadoko's sensitive, sickly 12-year-old nephew, who is resting up for a heart operation at a Tokyo hospital.
Instead of retreating into the shadows, however, she is drawn to this human, who sympathizes with her situation and understands her isolation. Their unusual friendship, however, leads to potentially disastrous consequences. With the loss of their little paradise looming, Pod begins to talk about moving to parts unknown.
Miyazaki reportedly selected Yonebayashi to direct "Arietty" for his animation skills. There are few of the flights of animated fancy, from the dazzling to the bizarre, that Miyazaki has made his trademark; instead, Yonebayashi and his team (with Miyazaki supervising) have created a world that is both gorgeously detailed and thrillingly realized from the perspective of its miniature protagonists.
As Arietty climbs vines to the roof, plunges on a thread from a kitchen table or performs other feats of derring-do, we have the heart-in-the-throat feeling of not only admiring her pluck, but being in her shoes. Would 3-D enhance this feeling? Possibly, but Yonebayashi and other Ghibli animators are past masters at creating the illusion of presence and depth without it.
The film threatens to devolve into the sappy, the preachy and the slapsticky at certain moments, but they are mercifully brief. There are also characters, such as the casually cruel Haru and the high-minded, mature-beyond-his-years Sho, who verge on annoying cliche, but they also have their virtues. Sho shows, in times of crisis, that he is no wuss, while bluntly telling Arietty that she and her kind will probably disappear. What chance do they have against the billions of humans with whom they uneasily share the planet? One answer arrives in the form of a tiny "wild boy" (Takuya Fujiwara) Pod encounters in the woods, who lives minus the comforts of civilization that Pod has so painstakingly assembled and constructed.
Will this become our answer as well? Like many other Ghibli films, "Arietty" comments on the devastation humans have wrought on the environment and speculates on the consequences.
More importantly for this Ghibli fan, however, the film gave me hope that when Miyazaki lays down his pencil for good, the studio will have at least one worthy successor. Sure, Yonebayashi is no Miyazaki — but who is?
Kari-Gurashi no Arietty (The Borrowers) Rating: (4 out of 5)
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Running time: 94 minutes
Opens July 17, 2010
KPBS San Diego
21 February 2012
Review: The Secret World of Arrietty
Another Studio Ghibli Winner
By Beth Accomando
If the Studio Ghibli production "The Secret World of Arrietty" (opened February 17 in select theaters) had come out last year it would have cleaned up on awards because it is leaps and bounds better than anything Hollywood produced last year.
Studio Ghibli is the Japanese animation and film studio founded in 1985, by animator/filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki along with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki. The studio was founded just after the success of Miyazaki's 1984 "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind." The company takes its name from the Arabic word the Italians used to name their Saharan scout planes in World War II. The studio has famously produced Miyazaki's great animations "Spirited Away," "Princess Mononoke," "Howl's Moving Castle," and "Ponyo" as well as the rare film by someone else.
Miyazaki, who is now 71, has threatened to retire ever since "Princess Mononoke" in 1997, and he has definitely been slowing down. "The Secret World of Arrietty" is further proof that he is looking for fresh talent to mentor in order to secure the future for Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki wrote the screenplay and his influence is readily apparent in the feisty female heroine, the character design, and the use of literary source material. But for this project, Miyazaki has handed over reins over to first time director Hiromasa Yonebayashi.
The story involves a family of little people living under the floorboards of a house. The basic story is taken from Mary Norton's 1952 children's novel "The Borrowers." The novel has already inspired an American TV and theatrical film as well as a British TV show and feature film. This latest incarnation of Norton's popular children's fantasy is transplanted to Japan where we find little (about 6 inch) Arrietty living with her father Pod and her mother Homily under the floorboards of an old country house. The teenage Arrietty is eager to explore and doesn't like her parents' warnings to avoid the humans. They survive by going out each night and "borrowing" just what they need to live on from the big, wasteful humans. One night, while out on a mission, Arrietty is spotted by Shawn, a young human boy living with his aunt as he awaits heart surgery. Shawn and Arrietty are mutually intrigued and develop a friendship despite the dire warnings of Arrietty's parents. Despite the best intentions of the youngsters, the little borrowers do find their quiet life thrown into massive upheaval.
Arrietty is clearly a kindred spirit to the heroines of Miyazaki's earlier "Nausicaä," "Kiki's Delivery Service," "Princess Mononoke," and "Spirited Away." She is smart, self-sufficient, and rebellious without being disrespectful. In an odd way, Arrietty and her family also carry on the environmental messages of Miyazaki's earlier films. They take only what they need, not wanting to upset the balance. They are also, like the raccoons of "Pom Poko," in danger of extinction because humans pose a threat of destroying their environment. But unlike Disney (which ironically is the U.S. distributor of all of Studio Ghibli's films) the messages are gracefully rather than heavy-handedly delivered.
"Arrietty" is a refreshing work for anyone who has grown tried of the frenzied pace of American animation, which seems almost exclusively aimed at kids. Oh sure some film include some humor that entertains adults more than kids (as in "Shrek" or "Tangled") but almost all of the Hollywood produced animation is aimed squarely at a young audience. "Arrietty" is refreshing because it first and foremost tells a story, and it takes its time to develop that story. It doesn't rush the pace because it thinks kids will be bored or dumb down the ideas because they worry kids won't appreciate subtlety. It also provides lovely hand drawn (with some computer help and support) animation that allows us to literally stop and smell the flowers as it weaves a tale of miniature adventure. And guess what? The audience full of little kids and adults were held rapt. The kids in my row never fidgeted and didn't even get up for a potty break or food. So maybe Hollywood animated films are just underestimating their audience.
One of the reasons the kids were entranced was because the film gives us wonderful details. There may not be a frenzy of action and fast cuts but each scene has meticulous details about how the borrowers live, how they make use of the things in their environment to survive. These are fascinating details and exquisitely rendered in the beautiful animation. So we see how a pin can become a sword for Arrietty or how double-sided sticky tape can allow Pod to walk up walls. Their environment is carefully designed so we see how nails sticking out of the wall can provide a ledge to walk on or how bugs can be a real danger to someone a half a foot high.