Saturday, August 11, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Secret World of Arrietty (2012) ***

G, 94 min.
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Writers: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, Mary Norton (novel “The Borrowers”)
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, David Henry, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Gracie Poletti, Moises Arias

“The Borrowers” is a story made for the imaginative filmmaking of Studio Ghibli. Founded by perhaps the greatest animation director to ever live, Hayao Miyazaki’s studio has always strived to tell stories with a strong message of family and individuality. He understands the human spirit can and is most comfortable inhabiting both of those life styles. “The Secret World of Arrietty” is Miyazaki’s script based on Mary Norton’s popular novel. It is a story perfectly comfortable in Miyazaki’s world.

There is much here that reminds me of Miyazaki’s earlier and perhaps best movie “My Neighbor Totoro”. Both involve country estates. Both cast children as the protagonists. Both involve an important character who is severely ill. “Totoro” is superior. “Arrietty” doesn’t involve as much mysticism or spirituality. But, both provide valuable life lessons for children in a family friendly film devoid of the typical violence and crude humor that usually populates family fare these days.

“Arrietty” is more of an adventure, which should appeal to children, but the thematic elements will please their parents and plant some valuable seeds of self-confidence. Arrietty is a wonderful role model for children. Her diminutive stature makes her courage even more profound and the lessons she teaches the normal sized boy all that more important. And, it’s got a cat in it. You just have to love Miyazaki’s cats.

No comments: