The Borrowers

  • Review Date: July 28, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1998

Common Sense Media says

Charming adaptation with constant (but funny) perils.
  • Review Date: July 28, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1998





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Positive messages of teamwork, family, hard work, and friendship.

Positive role models

Strong female role models dominate the Borrower culture, making decisions, taking physical risks, and speaking their minds.

Violence & scariness

Perilous and violent scenarios have tangible results. Traps, chemical burns, pokes in the flesh with prongs, chase scenes where little people are nearly smashed with hammers or drowned in milk. No one dies or is mortally wounded. The action is frenzied and continuous, but fun, too.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

"Damned," "idiot," and "shut up."


Very discernible product placement in first 15 minutes of movie: Breyer's ice cream, Reach dental floss, Energizer batteries.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The villain smokes cigars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the little people in this movie have a lot to fear from the "Beans," or humans, who are out to exterminate them. The tricks and traps can be painful to watch. There are also some gross-out moments (like when a Borrower falls into a pile of dog poop, or when a villain is drenched in liquid cheese). But the clever gadgets and great escapes will prove entertaining to tweens and even adults.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on Mary Norton's delightful book about the tiny people who live in houses and "borrow" foraged items (thus explaining why no one can ever find anything) THE BORROWERS follows the adventures of the Clock family, Pod, his wife Homily, and their children Arietty (played by the adorable newcomer Flora Newbigin), and Peagreen. They live in the home of the aptly named Lenders, until an unscrupulous lawyer named Ocious Potter (John Goodman) has them evicted so that he can tear down the house and build an apartment building. In 83 fast minutes the Clocks find a way to survive Potter and his exterminator, get separated and then reunited, meet up with long-lost friends, and, with the help of the Lenders' son, save the day for both families.

Is it any good?


The Borrowers is lots of fun and well worth watching. Mary Norton's beloved children's book is charmingly translated to the screen here. The art direction is sublime and the performances are utterly engaging. Children will want to watch the movie a second time just to identify all of the items used by the Borrowers for clothes, furnishings, and equipment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes this film so fun, and compare it to Mary Norton's book. There's a lot of imagination here, and families can use this film as a jumping point to create their own imaginary stories set in worlds where anything is possible.

  • Why are so many books made into movies? Are stories usually more or less enjoyable on the screen? What makes a good book-to-screen adaptation?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 13, 1998
DVD release date:November 5, 2002
Cast:Jim Broadbent, John Goodman, Mark Williams
Director:Peter Hewitt
Studio:USA Films
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild peril and some crude humor

This review of The Borrowers was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 9 years old Written bySammy Keyes September 20, 2009

Ever imagined tiny people as tall as a needle?

A Great film you won't miss out on!

What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 11 year old Written byvvfrn2 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Kid, 10 years old Written bySki girl 10 February 20, 2011

Great for 7 and up

I loved it best movie. I watched this with my 7 year old sister and she was laughing so hard. It is funny, good message, and lots of action.

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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