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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Borrowers (1997)
(2016 Reissue)


Starring: John Goodman, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Flora Newbigin, Mark Williams, Hugh Laurie, Bradley Pierce, Tom Felton and Raymond Pickard
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 14 March 2016

The Borrowers are four-inch high "little people" who live under the floorboards. When the owner of the house they live in dies and evil landlord Ocious Potter wants to build luxury apartments on its place, they decide to stand up for what's right and fight him...

The Borrowers is based on the children's book series of the same name by Mary Norton. It follows the story of Mr and Mrs Lender (Aden Gillett and Doon Mackichan) and their son, Pete (Bradley Pierce). When their aunt dies, her solicitor (John Goodman playing the wonderfully larger than life villain Ocious P. Potter) sadly informs them that she had no will and so the house will have to be sold. However, she did leave a will as well as the deeds to the house, somewhere in the building and Potter knows it. Getting the Lenders out ensures that he can find the deeds, tear the house down and make a fortune by erecting a block of luxury flats.

However, Potter didn't reckon on The Clocks, a family of tiny people who live underneath the Lender's floorboards and only come out to "borrow" things from the "Beans" (humans) but they have to be careful not to be seen as it's well known that Beans like to squash Borrowers.

The Borrowers family consists of Pod (Jim Broadbent) and Homily Clock (Celia Imrie) and their two children Arrietty (Flora Newbigin) and Peagreen (Tom Felton). Arrietty is at that age where she questions everything her parents tell her, so it's not long before her exploring gets her into trouble when Pete discovers her.

When Potter starts to look around the empty house and finds the house deeds, The Borrowers decide to help the Lenders by getting the document so that they can move back in. What unfolds is a comedy similar in a lot of respects to Home Alone, with the two Clock children trying to keep one step ahead of Potter.

The movie also features Mark Williams as the Exterminator, Hugh Laurie as Officer Oliver Steady and Ruby Wax as Town Hall Clerk.

Now there's no disputing that this is an enjoyable and funny movie for the younger audience. But this DVD release may prove to be rather disappointing for all true film lovers.

I'm going to assume that the disc we were sent out for review will be the same as the edition being released to buy. That being the case, this seems to be a simple reissuing of an early DVD release from long before the days everyone had widescreen TVs. As back then the majority of households had 4:3 aspect ratio TVs a lot of DVDs were produced in either the original widescreen editions (which were frowned upon by the unenlightened as they didn't want black bands at the top and bottom of the screen) and pan and scan editions which cropped the picture so that it would fill the entire screen of the average 4:3 TV.

While I was never a fan of pan and scan releases on the old TV format, reissuing a 4:3 edition of a film for the current 16:9 aspect ration of widescreen TVs is a very strange choice. But to then charge £15 is just plain stupid - especially when you can pick up the original DVD release (with the same awful aspect ration and extras) for just over £3.

The extras show the DVDs age. All we get are Coming Attractions, text based ads for future DVD release. The highlight: Spiceworld.


Nick Smithson

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