The Borrowers

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Borrowers Movie Poster Image
Charming adaptation with constant (but funny) perils.
  • PG
  • 1998
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

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

Positive Role Models & Representations

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

"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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous June 26, 2010

different from the book, mostly good, but watch for lies.

The story is a little different from the book (of course!), but it had been a couple of years since we read the book. We all enjoyed it, and my budding enginee... Continue reading
Parent Written bylet kids be kids January 13, 2013

Action, adventure for kids AND parents!

Action, adventure and it's for kids. Opens up kids' imaginations in a not-bad way. Being a faux-period movie, it removes modern distractions and allow... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bychargnar February 5, 2012

A nice Film

A pretty good movie. Kids will like the performance of Peegreen, who is a very young Tom Felton (AKA Draco Malfoy)
Kid, 10 years old 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'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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love books

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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