Un-Happily Ever Afters: Bill’s Reflection of The Secret Life of Arrietty

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead

I have to laugh.  Though I love watching the Oscars, I never get around to seeing most of the movies that win the awards! It’s so good to blog with someone who is in-touch with all of that.

Instead I’m here to talk about another kid’s movie. Last night my wife and I took our daughter to see The Secret Life of Arrietty. An animated movie, it is based on the book called “The Borrowers.” (The same book which inspired another movie called “The Borrowers” and an 80’s cartoon series called “The Littles”)  The story follows an odd friendship between a little person(Arrietty) and a larger human boy (Sho) who meet when Arrietty is discovered “borrowing” something from his home.

The story is pretty predictable.  The boy promises not to tell anyone about the borrowers, but the housekeeper finds signs of them, kidnaps Arrietty’s mother, and has to be rescued by the boy.

What got me, though, was the lack of a real “happy ending.”  When I think of children’s movies, I think predictability is key.  As is a happy ever after ending.  Watch most Disney movies.  They follow the same pattern.  Girl meets boy.  Boy rescues girl.  Girl and boy marry or stay friends for the rest of their lives.

That pattern holds…except in Arrietty.  In this movie, the happily ever after is foiled.  Everyone escapes, but the Borrowers must leave their home.  Even with a dollhouse that could house the little people, they dare not risk being exposed in the home.  So the friends part.  Arrietty and Sho must say goodbye.  And this goodbye is forever.  “I never saw her again,” the boy says at the end.

It almost made me cry.  I felt robbed.  What happened to my happily ever after ending?  What happened to them remaining friends always?  I KNOW this is what life is like.  I KNOW that from experience, but I don’t need to be reminded of reality.  Especially not in a kid’s movie!  I want the fairy tale.  I want everything to be alright.

My daughter had fun at it and didn’t really mind the unhappily ever after ending, but I did.  Maybe she’s a little deeper than I am.

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