The Borrowers (TV Movie 2011) Poster

(2011 TV Movie)

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A Flawed Adaptation
Yuki28 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The Borrowers is the latest film adaptation of the famous book series by Mary Norton and this time it's received a 21st century makeover. It tells the story of the Clocks, a family of little people who live beneath the floorboards of a recession-hit house, owned by an eccentric grandmother (Wood) and her grandson, James (Hiscock). The Clocks survive thanks to Pod (Eccleston), who goes on expeditions to "borrow" (i.e. steal) food and other items at night, or while the house is empty. He lives with his wife, Homily (Horgan) and his daughter, Arrietty (Loftus), who he is extremely protective of. But the adventurous Arrietty resents being kept underground and one night decides to sneak out on her own, only to be discovered by James, who she quickly becomes friends with. Unfortunately, they later attract the attention of James's grandmother and subsequently that of the villainous Professor Mildeye (Fry), who is convinced that the Borrowers exist and believes that capturing them will make him famous.

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.
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Watchable - But Not Brilliant
plutus19471 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Normally BBC are unbeatable in this type of presentation but sadly, although this second BBC production of The Borrowers was watchable and somewhat entertaining it was nowhere near as perfect as their first production in 1992. I must say that the first production was in fact a series as opposed to a 'one off'.

Christopher Eccleston (Pod), Victoria Wood (Granny Driver), Sharon Horgan (Homily), Aisling Loftus (Arietty), Robert Sheehan (Spiller) and the inimitable Stephen Fry (Professor Mildeye) were certainly adequate in their respective roles but there just was not enough 'oomph' to the production.

For those who have never seen The Borrowers or read Mary Norton's book or her sequels below is a brief synopsis of what The Borrowers are about.


The Borrowers are tiny people who co-exist in the human world, mainly under floorboards of human homes and 'borrow' from the human occupants in order to survive. They borrow whatever they need but do not appear to ever intend giving what they borrow back.

Their main fear is being discovered by human beings and they do everything in their power to avoid this.

Professor Mildeye is convinced that these little people exist and all he wants is to capture one in order to prove it.

The Borrowers is a cat and mouse game with the tiny people making sure that they are not discovered or captured by humans, but inevitably this does happen and they must rely on the help of a human boy to save them.


I do love The Borrowers and feel that it was written for everyone, whatever age they are.

Even the 1997 film starring John Goodman and Jim Broadbent I feel was better than the BBcs latest version of The Borrowers.

Sorry Auntie Beeb but that's the way I feel.
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Very good British Kids/Adult Drama
eve_dolluk27 December 2011
I watched this on Boxing day in the UK on BBC catchup and was pleasantly surprised.

I wasn't expecting much after watching some of the other made for TV productions around Xmas although this did have Stephen Fry and Christopher Eccleston in it who I do enjoy watching.

Eccleston takes a back seat in a lot of the film as the over protective father " Pod Clock" and the focus is on Aisling Loftus who plays the daughter " Arrietty Clock " who has lived a rather restricted life inside the family home.

The Borrowers share their home ( in the floorboards ) with Mrs Driver ( Victoria Wood ) who's daughter has recently died. Her Grandson ( James ) and son in law ( Robert ) are now living with her because the son in law is struggling for work.

The story really starts when Arrietty decides to venture out at night on her own and forms a friendship with the young Grandson James just before Christmas. Unfortunately for the Clock family of borrowers Mrs Driver is suspicious of what is going on in the house and decides to investigate further.

Visually the film was excellent and they chose to use actual large size props rather than CGI to recreate the large world surrounding the Borrowers. This made the whole thing seem very real and I am sure kids will enjoy that fact ( as well as adults ). Overall the film was very well acted but the spotlight was clearly on Aisling Loftus playing Arrietty as the innocent young woman exploring a whole new world she has never seen before and coming from rather a spoilt background. She has appeared in a few British Drama's before but for me this was my favourite role I have seen her in.

If you did miss this Film on Boxing day then please check it out on BBCi player and for those outside of the UK I hope it appears on Syfy or a similar channel available to you soon.
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Nice family movie
SnoopyStyle10 September 2013
Adapted from the 1952 book, this is the latest version of this classic. This was a BBC TV production, and as such is limited in its scale. The borrowers are secretive little tiny people that live under the floorboards. This one stars Christopher Eccleston, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Fry, among others. Aisling Loftus plays the lead Arrietty Clock. She's a sweet girl most notable for her big eyes. All the actors in the movie do a fine job. While the lower production value is understandable, it is still distracting. All in all, it's a nice little family movie.
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Absolutely brilliant!!!!
lizwilder_123426 December 2011
I haven't read the books, but this was certainly a pleasure to watch. The story was great for kids, and even adults and teenagers will have a laugh at the more sly yet subtle jokes that manage to make it even great than it is. There could have been a bit more content, and it did feel slightly rushed, but i think that this TV film really was something that I'd recommend to watch with family. Robert Sheehan, Christopher Eccelston and Stephen Fry all brought laughter to 'The Borrowers' and the cast couldn't have been any better. It was certainly great to see Robert's 'Misfits' type of character be involved in this, only less crude. The special effects are incredibly clever and well placed, the story is easy to understand and is quite simple and it's just a great watch! A must see TV film!
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The Japanese anime version is the better choice
siderite29 December 2011
I have not read the book, but since I have seen two versions of the story and they are both fairly similar, I can say that I know what it is about now. I have to say that the Christmas released British version was not exceptional in any way, even if casting Christopher Eccleston and Robert Sheehan from the Misfits.

The story is about a race of small humans that live underneath the floorboards of a house and "borrow" stuff in order to survive. They are basically human vermin, but intelligent and benign. The focus of the story is Arietty, a borrower teen girl who wants to explore like her father and therefore exposes her family to the human "beans" and almost gets them killed. In the end, all is good.

I have to say that the Japanese version was much better, even if from Hayao Miyazaki's animations it was probably the weakest. I can't stop from thinking that the story itself is not very good, due to its simplicity and lack of character development, but not having read it, I cannot give an informed opinion.

Bottom line: a small fairy tale like story, but not exceptional and a wee bit boring.
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The Borrowers
Jackson Booth-Millard3 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It started as a novel, for the older generation it became a television series, then there was the 1997 film with John Goodman, and I was surprised there would be a new television made all British film, but I was up for it. Basically the Clock family, father Pod (Christopher Eccleston), mother Homily (Sharon Horgan) and sixteen year old teenage daughter Arrietty (Aisling Loftus) are the four inch high people, The Borrowers, who live in secret under the floor boards of the human world, or rather "bean" (human "bean") world. To get by the family borrow the household items of the world above, e.g. sweets, lights, pennies, etc, but of course this is no easy task with the bean of the house, Granny Driver (Victoria Wood) trying to catch them. It is near Christmas, and one night Arrietty decides to explore the bean house, and that is when the young boy, James Millman (Charlie Hiscock) catches her, but he is amazed that people of her size exist, and they become good friends. When the Granny wants to try and catch them rather hastily though for "stealing" stuff, the Clock family are forced to go through the sewers and find a new place to live. With the help of other Borrower guide and biker Spiller (Misfits' Robert Sheehan) the family find the city of Borrowers, and this becomes their new home, and Arrietty confirms that they were never the only of their kind left in the world. In the human world, London University Professor Mildeye (Stephen Fry) is seen by others as a fantasist trying to prove his seemingly ridiculous theory that little people exist, but after befriending Granny and hearing of sightings he is determined to prove people he is right. So he sets some traps in the sewers where the Clock family were thought to be heading, and he manages to catch Pod and Homily and takes them back, and Spiller agrees to look after Arrietty and help her get her parents back. His desperation to show his "specimens" makes Professor Mildeye very mad and very bad, but his opportunity is snatched from him as the Clocks are reunited, they return to the Borrower world safe and sound, and in time to enjoy Christmas together. Also starring EastEnders' Shaun Dooley as Robert Millman, Anne Hirsch as Jenny, Warona Seane as Dean Karen Richards, Jane Hill as BBC News Presenter, Jonathan Blake as BBC Reporter and Catherine Burns as Radio Voice-over. Eccleston gives a good worried but also substantial father figure performance, and I have never seen Fry become such a nasty villain character, and so well, it is a marvellous modern retelling of the story, with really good special effects to inject you into the tiny people world, a fantastically fun family fantasy adventure. Very good!
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