The Secret World of Arrietty (G)
ANN; Disney Wiki; Ghibli Collection; Ghibli Wiki; GKIDS; IMDb; Kennedy/Marshall; Online Ghibli; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon (Japanese); Google Play; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube
This is based on a 1952 book called "The Borrowers," which I've never read. Though there was a 1997 live-action movie (also called The Borrowers), which I must have seen at some point on TV. Anyway, this anime movie first came out in Japan in 2010 (where it was called "The Borrower Arrietty"). I'm not sure when I first heard of it, but probably sometime in 2011. Naturally, being a Studio Ghibli movie, I was terribly anxious to see it, but I knew I wouldn't get a chance to see it in a theater (it came out in the U.S. in February of 2012, and I first saw it on DVD in November of that year). I believe it's the first Ghibli film I've seen that wasn't directed by Hayao Miyazaki, but he was involved in the movie.
So. Basically, there are very little people called "Borrowers," who live hidden like under the floors in the houses of "human beans" (you know, human beings). There's this one Borrower girl named Arrietty, about 14 years old, who is about to go with her father, Pod, on her first "borrowing" expedition; that is, to venture into the actual rooms of the beans' house, to take things they need, but which won't be missed by the beans. Earlier that day, a boy about her age, named Shawn (Sho, in the Japanese version), moves into the house where Arrietty and her parents live, to stay with his aunt. Shawn has always been sick, since there's a problem with his heart, and he's soon supposed to have an operation. His parents, however, are too busy with work to be with him. Shawn almost immediately sees Arrietty, which is a problem, because Borrowers are never supposed to be seen by beans. He later sees her again, that night, when she's on her first borrowing mission with her father.
It's not a terribly complicated story. Shawn wants to befriend Arrietty, but of course her parents want her to have nothing to do with beans (because humans can be very dangerous to Borrowers). Her mother, Homily, especially is terrified of... well, beans, cats, pretty much everything, it seems. Arrietty tries- sort of- to heed their warnings, but in spite of that, she does eventually become friends with Shawn. However, there's a woman named Hara (Haru, in Japan), who I guess is like a housekeeper or something. She wants to find the "little people" to prove she's not crazy to believe they exist. So she quickly becomes the "villain" of the movie; a very small part of me wants to feel vaguely sorry for her, since technically she's right, and not crazy. But on the other hand... she does pose a serious threat to the Borrowers. But of course, Shawn will help Arrietty and her family overcome this threat. (I feel like I should mention that Hara is voiced in the U.S. dub by Carol Burnett, though I only occasionally recognized her voice; I don't really know any of the other actors. Oh, except Homily is voiced by Amy Poehler, but I don't think I ever recognized her voice.) Even with the immediate threat overcome, the fact that beans know they're there (even a nice one like Shawn) means they have to move away. And they'll be helped with this, a bit, by another Borrower, a boy named Spiller (who seems almost like a cave man or something, though he seems to develop a crush on Arrietty).
I guess that's pretty much all I want to say about the plot. Not that there's much more to tell; like I said, it's not very complicated. But it's a very sweet story about an unlikely friendship. (Despite being based on a British book, the story seems tailor-made for Ghibli.) And as with all Ghibli movies, the animation is lovely. Um, oh, and I wanted to say the movie kind of feels to me like a cross between The Secret Garden and Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue. Heh. Anyway... it was just... really cute and fun, and a bit sad, and stuff. But mostly sweet.