Story

Based on Mary Norton’s famous children’s book, The Borrowers, Arrietty is the story of a tiny 14-year-old girl named Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler). Along with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) and other tiny people, Arrietty lives in a secret world in the basement of a huge mansion occupied by an old lady and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). The tiny people are ‘borrowers’ – they borrow from the humans, but only things the humans won’t miss, like sugar cubes. Occasionally Arrietty ventures out into the beautiful, magical garden but has to make sure the humans don’t see her. If this happens, her family will have to move.

Their peaceful life changes when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie) comes to live with his aunt. Shawn is a sickly boy and has heard of the ‘little people’ from his mother, so he’s not surprised to see Arrietty one day in the garden. Arrietty is afraid at first but gradually comes to trust Shawn. The two develop a strong friendship. But Arrietty is discovered by the housekeeper who wants to trap the little people. This causes lots of trouble for them, and they are forced to move home.

Themes

Magical worlds; neglected children

Violence

This movie has some violence. For example:

  • A crow flies at Shawn and then attacks Leo the cat.
  • Leo chases Arrietty and tries to grab her with his paws.
  • Arrietty has to fight a bug.
  • A crow flies at Arrietty and gets stuck in the flyscreen. It flaps and squawks and is very aggressive. The crow bites Shawn, and the housekeeper bashes the crow with a slipper to release it.
  • The housekeeper picks up Arrietty’s mother by her shirt and pulls her arms and legs. She puts her in a jar and hides her on a shelf in the pantry.
  • Spilla (another borrower) nearly shoots Shawn with an arrow.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Leo the cat is very large compared to Arrietty. He looks quite fierce.
  • The crow flying at Arrietty is very large and scary.
  • Arrietty’s mother faints when she hears loud noises and shaking – she thinks it’s an earthquake.
  • The housekeeper is a mean person and quite scary-looking.
  • The borrowers have to leave at night and pass some large animals – one has scary, red eyes. Leo the cat appears, but only his green eyes are shown.

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb younger children in this age group. For example:

  • Arrietty has to go up a shaft on a rope elevator – she’s quite scared.
  • Shawn’s father has left. He never sees his mother because she works all the time. He is sent to live with his aunt, but he’s very lonely and sad.
  • Arrietty’s mother is terrified when she’s discovered by the housekeeper. She screams when she’s caught and put in a jar and bangs on the sides trying to get out.
  • Arrietty cries and is very upset to find her mother gone.

From 8-13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Over 13

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

Ideas to discuss with your children

Arrietty is a beautifully crafted Japanese animated movie, which has been dubbed into English. It’s a charming story that’s likely to appeal to all ages, although younger children might find some scenes scary.

The main messages from this movie are that friendship can overcome all odds and that sometimes the smallest people can be the bravest.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include courage, friendship, loyalty, determination and kindness.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about issues with real-life relevance, such as the little people having to move house because Arrietty didn’t listen to her parents.