By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Charming adaptation with constant (but funny) perils.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to entertain, not educate.
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.
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"Damned," "idiot," and "shut up."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
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Where to Watch
Based on 3 parent reviews
Action, adventure for kids AND parents!
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Excellent Family Movie Night Choice for 8+
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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?
- In theaters: February 13, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: November 5, 2002
- Cast: Jim Broadbent, John Goodman, Mark Williams
- Director: Peter Hewitt
- Studio: USA Films
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild peril and some crude humor
- Last updated: April 1, 2022
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Where to Watch
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