Film Clip: The Secret World of Arietty

Rated 2.0

Mary Norton’s kids’ books about the tiny Borrowers who live under the floorboards of human houses get the Japanese anime treatment from director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and adaptors Hiyao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa. The 1997 live-action The Borrowers took more liberties with Norton’s original, but compensated with a fast-paced story, witty design, marvelous effects and plenty of humor—all of which are missing here. On the one hand, Yonebayashi’s layouts are richly colored, but animation is stiff and jerky, character faces are as immobile as stone, the story is as lifeless as the faces, and the voice work of the American cast (Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett) is utterly lackluster. Don’t bore your kids with this limp rag; stay home and rent the 1997 movie instead; they’ll thank you. J.L.