Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Movie Reviews: The Secret World of Arietty

By Perry S. Chen, Amazing Movie Review Columnist


3.5 out of 5 starfish

Have you ever noticed anything in your house that goes inexplicably missing? Haru, the housekeeper of a countryside home and caretaker of Shaun, a sickly human boy, believes that this is the work of borrowers, little people who live in the walls of homes and take things that humans wouldn’t usually miss to survive. There are indeed borrowers living in a home underneath the humans’ house, and a 14-year-old borrower named Arietty is seen by Shaun. Her father and mother decide to leave the house since Arietty was seen by a human being. Arietty believes that Shaun is not as dangerous as he seems; however, Haru’s unstoppable curiosity on the borrowers puts the whole family’s lives in danger.

I thought this film had stunning visual effects. The backgrounds look like watercolor paintings and the scenes of the garden and the assortment of wildflowers in the yard were beautiful. When you see the world through the eyes of Arietty, everything looks so big and colorful, and you notice little details that humans often miss, like secret doors in the walls, how water rolls off leaves, and how pill bugs interact with each other. Arietty’s bedroom looks like a forest of leaves, flowers, and berries. I also thought that the storyline was intriguing.

The film could use some improvements though. First of all, I didn’t think the dialogue was that good. Arietty sounded a lot older than she actually was, and she didn’t seem much like a 14 year old. I also think that Shaun’s voice and dialogue doesn’t make you feel very much compassion for them. All of the voices sounded like they were just following a script. Also, the borrower family seemed lacking in family dynamics. There was not very much interaction between the family members, and I didn’t feel as engaged in this movie as I did in other studio Ghibli films like Ponyo and Spirited Away. Finally, the borrowers would need nano-cells to perform tasks like talking and thinking like humans. And even so, osmosis and diffusion would react differently in their minute bodies, but since it is a fairy tale, it counts as poetic license.

I give this film 3.5 starfish. I thought that the idea of little people living in houses was a fascinating idea. There were many flaws in this film, but the glorious artwork was a redeeming quality.

Moral: Friendship can transcend differences in size, appearance, and ways of life.

Copyright 2012 by Perry S. Chen

Perry S. Chen is an 11-year-old award-winning film critic, artist, entertainment personality, filmmaker and animator. He has written movie reviews for San Diego Union Tribune, Animation World Network, Amazing Kids!, and his own website Perry’s Previews ( His first animation short “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” about a young Holocaust survivor won a “Special Jury Award” at Flyway Film Festival and has been acquired for worldwide distribution by Shorts International, distributor of Oscar-nominated shorts. Connect with him on Facebook: