March 10, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty - 2012

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, David Hendrie

Shawn (Hendrie), a boy with heart problems, is sent to his aunt's house in the country for the sake of rest and relaxation. Little does he know, the Pod family, members of a race of tiny people known as Borrowers, lives in the walls.

Many of you will probably remember the first time that Mary Norton's novel was adapted for American audiences; it introduced us to several actors who would later hit their strides in the Harry Potter franchise (including a young Tom Felton). This is almost entirely unlike that. The little people are in a house in the woods outside Tokyo now, Arrietty has no little brother, the aforementioned heart condition in Shawn (not Pete)...I could go on and on. It's not nearly as thoroughly unwatchable as most children's fare, and Studio Ghibli's animation comes through in spades as always, but the film's rife with issues. Shawn knows precisely where under the house the Homily family lives without being told, Pod completely disappears for a good portion of the second act, Will Arnett's lines (meant to sound old and haggard) instead come across as wholly emotionless, Shawn gives a speech that is wholly contrary to the rest of the film tonally, and Spiller...well, I'll show you.
Spiller's become a monosyllabic tribesman. If that's not the height of racial sensitivity, I don't know what is. Wait for the DVD on this one; you're not missing much. C+

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