The Borrowers Movie Poster Image

The Borrowers

Charming adaptation with constant (but funny) perils.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1998
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

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.

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/Streaming 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

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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)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 10 years old September 28, 2009

The perfect movie

This is a great movie.I think you should watch it. It is about a family that is small and they go through a bunch of adventurer and they save there home wile they go through them to i think that if you like fun and adventure this is the perfect movie for you!
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 other families should know
Great messages
Great role models