The Secret World of Arrietty (opens Feb. 17)

28 Jan

As Kari-gurashi no Arietti (The Borrower Arrietty), this Studio Ghibli feature became Japan’s highest-grossing film of 2010, and now Disney is releasing it in the United States as The Secret World of Arrietty.  Written by Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Ponyo) and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Gary Rydstrom, the film is based on The Borrowers, a popular children’s novel by Mary Norton.  The Clocks are a family of miniature people who live secretly under the floorboards of regular homes.  Arrietty and her family survive by “borrowing” small household items that the home’s larger residents wouldn’t miss.   When Arriety is spotted by a curious human boy, her family is put in danger.  Part of the visual pleasure of the trailer is seeing how Arrietty navigates the giant human world, making her own special use of pins and sugar cubes.

This version is dubbed in English and stars Bridgit Mendler (Wizards of Waverly Place, Good Luck Charlie) as the voice of Arrietty.  Americans may be a bit disappointed that they won’t be hearing Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Lovely Bones), who played Arrietty in the UK version.  On the other hand, the film is bound to be invigorated by real-life spouses Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, Mean Girls, Saturday Night Live) and Will Arnett (Up All Night, Arrested Development), who voice Arrietty’s parents.  The human boy who befriends tiny Arrietty is voiced by David Henrie (Wizards of Waverly Place, How I Met Your Mother).  Sho in the Japanese version, he is now named Shawn.  Comedic legend Carol Burnett (The Carol Burnett Show, Horton Hears a Who, Annie) will undoubtedly shine as the voice of Hara, a prying housekeeper who kidnaps Arrietty’s mother.

Here’s hoping that along with Brave and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, The Secret World of Arrietty will make 2012 a better year for animated features.  With this version, American audiences can sit back and enjoy the film’s hand-drawn animation instead of having to read subtitles.  Of course, sometimes that’s part of the fun.  English-speaking viewers at the Rome Film Festival were reportedly amused by the fact that subtitles for The Borrower Arrietty mistranslated the phrase “human beings” into “human beans.”

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