Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Hewitt|
|Based on||The Borrowers|
by Mary Norton
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
Hans Zimmer (score producer)
|Edited by||David Freeman|
|Distributed by||PolyGram Filmed Entertainment|
|Box office||$54 million|
The Borrowers is a 1997 independent live-action fantasy comedy film loosely based on the 1952 children's novel The Borrowers by author Mary Norton and starring John Goodman, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Mark Williams, Hugh Laurie and Bradley Pierce. In 1998, it was nominated for Best British Film in the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards, but lost to Gary Oldman's film Nil by Mouth.
Some of the film's scenes were shot on location in the village of Theale, near Reading, Berkshire where all of the buildings and shops in the High Street were painted dark green. When the film was released in the United Kingdom, it opened on No. 2, behind Alien Resurrection. The next week, the film regained the position, though under Tomorrow Never Dies.
Young Pete Lender sets up traps throughout his home, explaining to his parents that small household items are being stolen, which they believe are simply misplaced. In actuality, the Clock family of tiny people known as "Borrowers" are secretly living in the house, taking things without being seen by "human beans". Lawyer Ocious P. Potter informs the Lenders that he cannot find the will of Mrs. Lender’s late aunt Mary Alabaster – the family’s only evidence that their house rightfully belongs to them – and he has already made plans to demolish their house and build condominiums, forcing the Lenders to move.
Pod Clock and his children, Arrietty and Peagreen, make their way through the kitchen to "borrow" a battery to bring back to his wife, Homily. Arrietty treats herself to ice cream in the freezer, and is accidentally trapped inside as the Lenders return. Pod rescues her via the ice dispenser, but is forced to leave one of his gadgets behind. Later, Arrietty ventures out alone and is caught by Pete, who explains that the house is being demolished in the absence of the will. Arrietty warns her family and, despite her parents’ misgivings, Pete smuggles the Clocks onto the Lenders’ moving truck to join them at their new home. Pete repairs and returns Pod’s gadget to him, earning his trust. As the truck pulls away, Arrietty and Peagreen fall out, and make their way back to the house.
Potter arrives, revealing that he lied to the Lenders; having a distrust of banks, Mrs. Allabaster had actually hidden her will – officially leaving her property to the family – inside the house. He finds the will in a hidden safe and prepares to burn it, but Arrietty and Peagreen flee with the document. Discovering the Clocks’ home beneath the floorboards, Potter summons Exterminator Jeff to eliminate the Borrowers, and is sprayed with caustic foam and electrocuted in the process. Police Officer Oliver Steady responds to the disturbance, but Potter throws off his suspicions, and Arrietty and Peagreen escape with the will.
Peagreen falls into an empty milk bottle and is collected and brought back to the dairy, with Potter, Jeff, and Jeff’s flatulent bloodhound in pursuit, followed by Pete, Pod, and Homily. Spiller, an "outie" Borrower living on the street, takes Arrietty to the dairy, where Pod rescues Peagreen from the assembly line. Potter captures the Borrowers and leaves them to drown in liquid cheese. Spiller taunts Potter, who drops him in a machine, apparently killing him, and departs with the will. Pete saves the Clocks, and Jeff, having had a change of heart, drives them to City Hall to stop Potter arranging the house’s demolition.
In retaliation for Potter’s rudeness, the City Hall clerk stalls him with confusing directions. Reaching the demolitions office, Potter is confronted by Jeff and Pete, but enters the office only to find himself locked in a supply room. The Clocks tie him up with electrical tape, but he breaks free and recaptures them. Before Potter can vacuum up the family, Spiller arrives with an army of Borrowers who subdue him, and Pod delivers a warning to Potter on behalf of all Borrowers. They disappear as Pete and Jeff arrive with Officer Steady. Pete shows Steady the will, proving Potter’s plan to cheat the Lenders out of their house, and Potter is arrested.
The Lenders move back into their home, as do the Clocks, now with food and assistance from Pete. As the Clocks enjoy the company of their old Borrower friends, Arrietty and Spiller sneak away to ride his aerosol paint-propelled roller skate.
During the credits, Potter attempts to explain the existence of Borrowers, only for the whole station--both cops and convicts--to laugh at him uproariously. The film closes with Potter getting his mugshots taken (which he actually seems to enjoy).
- John Goodman as Ocious P. Potter, a crooked lawyer who seeks to destroy the Lender family's house.
- Jim Broadbent as Pod Clock, the patriarch of the Clock family.
- Mark Williams as Exterminator Jeff, an exterminator who helps Potter.
- Hugh Laurie as Officer Oliver Steady, a police officer who becomes suspicious of Potter's motives.
- Bradley Pierce as Pete Lender, a boy who befriends the Clock family.
- Celia Imrie as Homily Clock, the matriarch of the Clock family.
- Flora Newbigin as Arrietty Clock, the daughter of Pod and Homily.
- Tom Felton as Peagreen Clock, the son of Pod and Homily.
- Raymond Pickard as Spud Spiller, an "outie" Borrower.
- Ruby Wax as Town Hall Clerk
- Aden Gillett as Joe Lender, the father of Pete Lender.
- Doon Mackichan as Victoria Lender, the mother of Pete Lender.
- Bob Goody as Minty Branch
- Alex Winter as TV Gangster
The film received generally positive reviews upon its release. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 73% based on reviews from 26 critics. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.
The Guardian has described the film as "A spirited screen version of the Mary Norton stories about the tiny folk who live under the floorboards, and off human scraps. Jim Broadbent and Celia Imrie are a joy as the parents of little Arrietty..."
Roger Ebert in his review described the film, in the wake of numerous television adaptations, as a "big-screen, big-budget version with special effects so amusing it's like Toy Story has come to life...the charm comes in the way The Borrowers makes its world look like a timeless story book. If the action and the physical humour are designed to appeal to kids, the look of the film will impress adults who know what to look for."
This film was released on 19 May 1998, on VHS and on 1 April 2003 on DVD.
- The Borrowers at Box Office Mojo
- "Reading's starring role in new film". Trinity Mirror. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
- "Weekend box office 5th December 1997 - 7th December 1997". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "Weekend box office 12th December 1997 - 14th December 1997". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "The Borrowers (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "BORROWERS, THE (1998) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 20 December 2018.
- Green, Dave (17 December 1999). "Watch this". The Guardian.
- Ebert, Roger (13 February 1998). "The Borrowers". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 12 August 2007.