Aug 29, 2014

Review: The Borrowers (1997)

I remember having watched The Borrowers when I was a kid. I think I saw it twice actually. I had a blast watching this movie and I was curious to see how it has held up since then. It was a movie I would quote many times and I even remember having the book read to me by mom. Yes, my mom used to read to my two sisters and I before bedtime. As much as there were times I had wished I could be doing other stuff like watching late-for-a-kid TV or video games, having books read to me did more good than harm in the end.

The Borrowers is full of great English actors. Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Hugh Laurie and a very young Tom Felton. Oh, and American John Goodman. Can't forget him now can we? Looking at director Peter Hewitt's filmography is a little worrisome though because it appears that all he's made that's worthwhile is Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. Although it's a sequel to a great movie, it's still got its moments. But I mean Garfield? Thunderpants? Zoom? I don't know...


Genre: comedy, family, fantasy
Directed by: Peter Hewitt
Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Rachel Talalay, etc.
Written by: Gavin Scott, John Kamps
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Running time: 89 minutes
Production company: Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films
Distributed by: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, REP Distribution, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Language: English
Budget: $29,000,000
Box office: $22,619,589 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: John Goodman, Mark Williams, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Flora Newbigin, Tom Felton, Raymond Pickard, Bradley Pierce, Aden Gillett, Doon Mackichan, Hugh Laurie, Ruby Wax, Andrew Dunford, Bob Goody, Patrick Monckton, Dick Ward, George Antoni, Alex Winter



Pete Lender (Bradley Pierce) lives with his parents (Aden Gillett and Doon Mackichan) in a house that's in the process of being passed onto them from his great-aunt Mrs. Allabaster who died recently. Unknown to the family, a tiny family of people called Borrowers, about four-inches tall, live below their floorboards. Pod Clock (Jim Broadbent), Homily Clock (Celia Imrie) and their children Arrietty and Peagreen live a life of scavenging silently, unbeknownst to the Lenders except for Pete who's begun to suspect something afoot. Things can always go missing can they? A problem with the will of Mrs. Allabaster opens the door for lawyer Ocious P. Potter (John Goodman) to kick the Lenders out of the house and build luxury condos in its place which will also force the Clocks out too unless they don't mind being squished.


The movie itself retains the charm that I remember all too well. The special effects of having four-inch people in a giant world also have aged quite well for the most part and I came away impressed. The Clock house set is really cute and I love how their lifestyle is established in the movie. A typical meal for example is a piece of a noodle each at dinnertime that was "borrowed." What happens when a "human bean" decides to vacuum on a day that's off schedule you ask? Chaos. That's what.

When it comes to the more tense moments, they're not quite as exciting as I remember them to be and I'm not sure if it's because I already know what will happen or if age has just dulled these moments down. (Spoilers) There are also some times where you'll wonder why Ocious P. Potter doesn't just step on his tiny enemies when he gets the chance and be done with it but let's just leave that to his desire to be as evil as possible instead of having poor decision making. (End Spoilers) Some of the jokes fall a bit flat too but that's for the more slapstick/physical comedy jokes. When it comes to written dialogue, the humour is brilliant and will be funny for kids and adults alike.

In terms of the cast, it's the veteran actors who carry The Borrowers. John Goodman is deliciously evil and has his fair share of great moments. He's a victim of some of the less funny physical comedy moments but he does a great job regardless. Mark Williams is one of the highlights of The Borrowers as a lamebrain exterminator as is Hugh Laurie who plays a criminally underused, polite police officer. Some of the kid actors show some weaknesses but they do OK too.

The Borrowers is a kind of family friendly blockbuster with action and humour. Kids can like it and so can adults. I'm impressed with how well it's aged over seventeen years and I'm sure it'll still be good in another seventeen years. With a great cast, witty humour and some well done and not overused effects, The Borrowers is a great choice for any family with young kids. It's also good for those nostalgic movie watchers like me too. 



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