So many of today's children's movies are loud. Loud explosions, loud colors, loud soundtracks, loud humor. The animated "The Secret World of Arrietty" is the antidote to those films.
Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler) is a borrower, a population of tiny people who mostly go unnoticed by the human world. She lives with her parents in the floorboard of a country home and at 14 is ready to go with her father on her first borrowing, a nighttime trek into the humans' living space to retrieve supplies.
When she drops a sugar cube, she is discovered by Shawn (David Henrie), a 12-year-old human who is staying with his aunt at the house to rest before heart surgery. The sickly teen wants to be friends with Arrietty, but their relationship could put her family in danger.
Based on the beloved Mary Norton series "The Borrowers," "The Secret World of Arrietty" comes from the studio of Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese director of films "Ponyo" and the Oscar-winning "Spirited Away." (Miyazaki is the screenwriter for "The Secret World of Arrietty"; Hiromasa Yonebayashi is the director.)
Kids used to "Cars" and "Kung Fu Panda" may get restless with scenes of Arrietty's mother working in the kitchen or her father building in the workshop, but those moments give the film an elegant simplicity.
The American voice actors provide humor to break up the quiet. Haru (Carol Burnett) is the comic relief, a suspicious housekeeper who wants to capture and rid the house of the little people she knows are sneaking about. Homily (Amy Poehler) is Arrietty's worrywart mother, over the top in her concern. Pod (a subdued Will Arnett) is the calm head of the family.
And Arreitty's world is created in such detail — a straight pin is her sword, staples are rungs in a ladder, a postage stamp is a wall hanging — that part of the fun is venturing into a place where familiar objects have new uses.
"The Secret World of Arrietty" proves that imagination still matters amid all the clamor.
"The Secret World of Arrietty"
Three stars (out of four) • Rating G • Run time 1:35