The Borrowers (1997)

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December 5, 1997

The Borrowers is a 1997 fantasy comedy film directed by Peter Hewitt. The film stars John Goodman, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Mark Williams, Hugh Laurie and Bradley Pierce. The film is loosely based on the 1952 children's novel of the same name by author Mary Norton. 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, Joe and Victoria, 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 Victoria’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. Alabaster 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. Spud 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, Minty Branch, Swag Moss and Dustbunny Bin, 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).

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