Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Teaches kids about the importance of communication and the value of understanding other people's circumstances.
The movie's strongly positive message is to be brave and reach out to someone (even those you don't quite understand); chances are the world will embrace you, too.
Positive Role Models
Arrietty is a strong teen who's brimming with confidence, compassion, and a healthy sense of self. Though she does sometimes go against her parents' will, she never does it out of malice and is always acting out of the goodness of her own heart. On the other hand, the housekeeper shows a discomfiting mean streak, which is played for laughs.
Violence & Scariness
A human destroys the Borrowers' habitat. An important character is kidnapped but later rescued. The main character befriends a child who is said to be dying, which could upset some kids.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
A few brand names are seen, including Ivory dish soap.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Secret World of Arrietty is a charming and unexpectedly profound anime film from the Japanese studio responsible for movies like Ponyo, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle. It's full of heart but also has some sad moments and tackles some somber themes -- including illness (Arrietty befriends a child who is said to be dying) and estranged family relationships -- which may make it a little intense for the youngest moviegoers. There's a kidnapping, and a sick young boy's mother sends him away to stay with a relative for a while -- a separation that may upset some little kids. But overall the movie is very sweet, and there's no swearing, smoking, drinking, strong violence, or overly sexy content to worry about. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The beauty of Studio Ghibli movies is that they have such depth and heart, and this film is a perfect example. On the surface is the wonder of a teen discovering a miniature counterpart who lives in a world much like his own, only within the walls and under the floorboards of his house. But even more substantial is how the movie straightforwardly presents the plight of a boy who's often left alone and is lonely, and of a girl who doesn't get to interact with others like herself. In Ghibli movies, children and teens are allowed to be sad, despondent, worried, afraid, and burdened -- it's not a sugar-coated world. And yet the story unfurls with no heavy-handedness, just a realism that doesn't condescend to its young audience. Our kids can handle complicated material, as long as it's handled intelligently and with compassion.
Viewers used to the whiz bang, frenetic pace of other animated features may find The Secret World of Arrietty slow-moving and lacking in special effects, but that's its strength. The artwork is gorgeous and meticulous, the story beautiful. It doesn't need thunderous gimmicks or musical cues -- or characters so outlandish that they're ready-made for collectibles bought at fast-food restaurants -- to be a wonderful movie. It simply is.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.