The main thing that bothered me about this film was the casting. While it makes sense to recruit well known actors, it doesn't follow that simply loading a film with famous names is going to result in a successful production. Eccleston's talents, for instance, seem to be a bit wasted in his role as Pod and he's never really given much chance to shine. Robert Sheehan seemed to be playing a carbon copy of that irritating "Mutt" character from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (complete with motorcycle and leather jacket), which I thought was a bad move, and watching Sheehan struggling to describe his character during a TV interview didn't exactly inspire confidence, either. Aisling Loftus was probably the biggest miscast of the film and her performance border-lined on embarrassing – she looks too old to be playing Arrietty, and her character ended up looking and sounding more like a mentally-challenged adult than a kid; the expressions of excitement and wide-eyed wonder that look appropriate on the face of a child don't quite look right on the face of a woman in her twenties. But having said that, Victoria Wood played a good part and Stephen Fry brought with him his unique, show-stealing brand of wit.
The story itself was passable, although the idea that an adventurous sixteen year old who has spent her entire life living in a small area beneath the floorboards has never tried to sneak outside before strains credibility somewhat, especially when "outside" is so easily accessible. The humour is pretty thin on the ground and mostly aimed at kids, which is fair enough, but the romance (featuring another Borrower named Spiller (Sheehan) who Arrietty meets later in the film) seemed rather perfunctory and should have been left out altogether. It's not like the two characters make a very convincing match anyway. Also, Spiller's sudden appearance when Arrietty is in trouble, as well as his off-screen escape at the end smacked of deus ex machina. Overall, the production values left a lot to be desired, ranging from sudden accent changes to the green screen compositing, which in some scenes was pretty awful. The characterisation was a little clumsy in places too, such as the part where Pod and Homily stand around talking about which personality traits Arrietty has inherited from who. She's clever and courageous, apparently – or so her mother says. How she knows this when she's been kept inside a small room her entire life is a mystery. But then again, we don't see much evidence of it when she's not under the floorboards, either. The rescue plan, for instance, seems to have been James's idea, with Arrietty and Spiller just along for the ride. It's a classic example of too much telling and not enough showing.
Ultimately, despite being watchable, there was too much about the latest incarnation of The Borrowers that just didn't measure up.