FILM REVIEWS: The Secret World of Arrietty and This Means War

Little people equal big charm in Japanese animated feature

Japanese animated feature The Secret World of Arrietty.

Although Japanese animation tends to be amazing and bizarre in equal measure, The Secret World of Arrietty is surprisingly mainstream – doubtless because it’s based on a British story, features American voices, and has Japanese direction. The resulting movie avoids the problems that committees often present, delivering a coherent and charming entertainment that, while primarily aimed at younger children, has much to offer anyone who appreciates great artwork and good storytelling.

Arrietty is a “borrower,” a being four inches high who hides unseen in the houses of normal humans and filches tiny amounts of food and supplies in order to lead a comfortable parallel existence. Fourteen-year-old Arrietty lives with her mother and father, and has just been initiated into the art of borrowing by her father, who shows her how to use various pieces of climbing gear as they sneak through the walls of the house they have lived in for years. The house is owned by a kindly older woman who is looking after a young nephew named Sean, who has a heart condition and is awaiting surgery. Sean spots Arrietty out in the garden when he first arrives, and the two gradually develop a friendship, even though her hyper-cautious parents forbid it. Adding a dollop of menace and comic relief is a nasty housekeeper (Carol Burnett) who suspects that the house contains “little people” and hires exterminators on the sly.

Secret is marvelously drawn, from the flower-strewn garden to the realistic and highly decorated interiors. And without making a big deal of it, Arrietty is a brave and resourceful protagonist. (The sexual politics are much less progressive when it comes to her mother, voiced by Amy Poehler, who is a shrieking nervous Nelly.) The soundtrack is appealing, and the characters live in a strange hybrid world where people don’t exactly look Japanese and use both forks and chopsticks. Funny, touching and uninterested in delivering a sentimental ending, Secret is quite delightful. M

 

The Secret World of Arrietty ★★★½

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong

G – 134 minutes

Continues at the Capitol & SilverCity

 

 

The entertainment is formulaic in This Means War, a bromantic comedy wherein two CIA agents go from being perfect partners to cranky competitors after they fall in love with the same woman. FDR (Chris Pine, Star Trek) is a shallow “player” while Tuck (Tom Hardy, Inception), divorced and a single dad, is rather earnestly looking for real love. After they meet Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) the race is on to win her heart. And for these top-tier agents that means deploying the latest surveillance spyware not only to find out the surest way to seduce the blonde hottie, but also to keep an eye on how the competition is doing.

Although the storyline wheezes predictably along, some of the touches are clever and often quite funny. The three leads are likable and good enough actors to invest their cardboard characters with touches of humanity. And because a violent subplot from the opening scene gradually develops into a life-or-death threat, the movie splits the difference between a chick flick and a guy-friendly action outing. This is precisely the sort of slick and shallow movie that audiences like and critics tend to despise. M

 

This Means War ★★½

Directed by McG

Starring Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon

PG-13 – 120 minutes

Continues at the Capitol, Westshore, & SilverCity

 

 

PERFECTLY POTABLE

Sean Hoyne, one of Victoria’s most skilled brewmasters, has stepped away from Canoe Brewpub to start his own microbrewery. I haven’t worked my way through all four of his brand new beers yet, but can salute his malty and flavourful Hoyne Pilsner, which has way more Czech character than the bland pilsners brewed in North America. (And rumour has it that his Devil’s Dream IPA is scandalously good.) Bottoms up!

Just Posted

Jazz bargains available for music lovers this month

Left Coast Jazz Fest offers four-show package deal, extends discount for TD JazzFest ticket holders

WINE NOTES: Wild about the whites

Plenty of reason to try out these affordable whites, writes Monday wine columnist Robert Moyes

Animal-loving comic Carla Collins performing fundraiser show for SPCA

Sellout show June 20 could raise up to $35,000 for Victoria branch of organization

TESS VAN STRAATEN: Getting funky in Fernwood

Eclectic neighbourhood draws many visitors, laid-back feel popular with residents

Victoria band celebrating the music of Tom Waits

The Beautiful Maladies take the stage at the Roxy Theatre, Duncan Showroom this week

VIDEO: Ukranian dancers showcase their moves for Victoria audience

Year-end showcase an opportunity to catch a colourful, cultural event

Rick Mercer-led comedy team in for second Just for Laughs show at UVic

Comedy company will stage two shows Nov. 16 at Farquhar Auditorium

Trade expo a key part of 2019 BC Seafood Festival

Comox Valley hosts celebration of seafood industry; numerous events on tap this weekend

Samoa bans Elton John biopic, Rocketman

Depictions of homosexuality, contrary to law, cause country’s censor to prevent film’s screening

REVIEW: If you like farce, you’ll love Noises Off at Langham Court!

By Sheila Martindale The nine cast members in Langham Court Theatre’s new… Continue reading

Celtic songs tuned up for Sooke coffeehouse

Celtic Reflections to perfrom on June 15

Most Read