The family’s isolation and Arrietty’s need for a friend speak to the loneliness of childhood. That’s something that contemporary movies for kids, in their eagerness to please a broad audience and keep them entertained, often don’t address. Also, Shawn’s upcoming operation gives the film a sense of impending mortality—a subject kids' movies usually tap dance around.

That doesn’t mean the movie wallows in morbidity. Instead, when Shawn resignedly tells Arrietty, “None of us can live forever. We all have to die sometime. . . . You just have to accept it and prepare for the worst,” Arrietty fights back. “Oh, no you don’t!” she exclaims. “We’ll keep on living!”

Shawn’s statements aren’t incorrect—we all do have to die sometime. But it’s not for us to decide when our time is up. Until then, we are called to live, and to preserve life—our own included. Even though the borrowers, led by Arrietty’s father, fight despair at times, they bravely press on in the hope that something better awaits them.

The Secret Life of Arrietty is a solid Studio Ghibli effort, a story about small people with big hopes. Give it a chance and it will enhance your sense of wonder. It might even make you feel like a kid again.


  • Language/Profanity: None.
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Wine consumed, and bottles of wine seen several times; Shawn’s aunt wonders if Hara has gotten into the sherry.
  • Sex/Nudity: None.
  • Violence/Crime: A cat attacks the borrowers; Arrietty threatens to cut down “filthy rats” with her sword; Shawn speaks of a needed heart operation and the chances that it won’t be successful; a crow flies into a window and flaps its wings trying to get away; a housekeeper hits the crow with her shoe; father explains that other borrowers have lost their lives believing that humans were their friends; housekeeper wants exterminators to come to the home and clear out the borrowers; Spiller offers a fresh cricket leg to be eaten; cat hisses and leaps at Arrietty; Shawn exits his room via a window and walks on roof of home.
  • Religion/Morals: Mother prays for husband and daughter, “Please God. Help them”; father says he’s proud of his daughter; mother calls daughter a “smart girl,” and she replies, “Maybe I have a smart mom who taught me”; Shawn says, “None of us can live forever. We all have to die sometime. Sometimes things happen to us that are beyond our control. You just accept it. . . . You have to accept the hand of fate.” Arrietty replies, “Oh, no you don’t!”

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