(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Secret World of Arrietty)
Doug (vo): The Secret World of Arrietty seems very much returning to the form that films like Kiki and Totoro did. Except in this case, they take the idea of a very small story and literally make it a very small story.
Doug (vo): Based on the book The Borrowers, we follow the world of very tiny people that live in a little house, and how they manage to get around without ever being seen. But our main character, Arrietty, does get seen once; coming across a boy who apparently seems to be very slowly dying. He seems to have come to peace with it, and talks about his life with her. Overtime, they find they have a lot in common, share a lot of their experiences, and form a very strong friendship. But things start to get a little crazy when one of the other people in the house starts to think there are little people that are roaming through the wood, and dedicates all of her time and effort to finding out where.
Doug (vo): Once again, that's about all there is to the story, but once again, that's about all that you need.
[Several characters are shown]
Doug (vo): The characters are all very likeable and all very intelligent. I really like hearing the conversations that they share with one another. You really feel a sense of family in this film. A lot of films I see that focus on family have a lot of jokes and one-liners and put-downs and stuff, kind of like a sitcom. Here, everyone seems to talk like a real person. The only one who seems to speak differently is the boy with the terminal illness, but that's a boy with a terminal illness, and it's really fascinating to get inside his mindset. To hear how he sees the world and how we feel so very small in it, which, of course, is very fitting telling this to a very small person. They both have big worlds with big limitations and yet for entirely different reasons.
[Clips focusing on one scene about to be described are shown]
Doug (vo): But even for all their talking, there's still a lot of visual imagination to this movie. Even just them trying to get across the kitchen is like this really big event. There's a great scene where they have to do it at night and they have to be quiet, and it's almost like watching an episode of Mission: Impossible; it's just so suspenseful. And it's also great to see just how they get through this world. All the little secret passages, all the devices that they make. The engineering even at such a small scale is very impressive.
[Several clips focusing on the ending are shown]
Doug (vo): The only downside I have, which I'm starting to accept more and more as just sort of a criticism of Japanese cinema I think, is that the ending, once again, seems a little rushed, at least, in the placement of the credits. The movie seems to be building up to a proper epilogue and then they just start showing the names of everybody that's in it. Doesn't that usually mean it's time to get up and time to walk away? I can't really focus on what they're showing me if I'm reading the people that worked on the film. And I really would've liked to have been totally engrossed in that and just watch that without a bunch of names flashing in front of me. I don't get the creative choice, but I can definitely say it happens in a lot of animated films from Japan. Maybe it's a creative style I don't get, but it does kind of bother me.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): But it in no way ruins the film. This is a really charming, likeable piece. It's not any huge epic, but at the same time, you do really get sucked in to a lot of their problems. You do kinda take a little bit of a gasp whenever they're about to be seen. You do kinda become fearful that they might get caught. But at the same time, you enjoy the simpler moments of them just sitting back and having a conversation about the greater things as well as the smaller things. I really liked it and I definitely enjoyed its very laidback structure. If you're looking for big adventure, you'll get elements of it here and there. But it's mostly a very calm, subdued family film. But, hey, what the hell's wrong with that? Give it a shot and see for yourself.
[A scene showing the sun setting over a town is shown]