All the Small Things! Our Favorite Tiny Characters
Marvel's Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has the crazy ability to shrink in size but only get stronger, which helps a lot when it's time to save the world. Here are some other tiny characters that prove great things really do come in small packages.
The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
This Walt Disney Pictures/Studio Ghibli co-production tells the story of the Clock family who live unnoticed within the home of another family. How do they manage it? Well, they all happen to be no bigger than four inches tall.
The Indian in the Cupboard
In 1994, former Muppeteer Frank Oz brought to the screen Lynne Reid Banks’ novel about a young boy and his magical cupboard, which brings to life any toy he puts inside -- like his toy Indian Little Bear. The film eloquently speaks to the magic often hiding in even the smallest of places.
The Secret of NIMH
A poor field mouse, living in a cinder block, must seek the assistance of a colony of mysterious rats to save her sick son. She is helped along the way by a rather accident prone Crow (voiced by Dom DeLuise). The world created for The Secret of NIMH is one of danger, beauty, and arresting animation style.
Rain forests on Earth are teeming with a diverse array of life forms. The one type of creature they lack? Fairies. Luckily, that’s where 1992’s Ferngully steps in to fill the gap. Crysta, the fairy protagonist, actually shrinks Zak, a human encroaching on her sacred forest, into a fairy-sized being. Zak must then contend with the tribulations of being tiny--like nearly being eaten by a tree lizard.
In 1997, Peter Hewitt brought to the screen this story of a family of four-inch little people who live under the floorboards and “borrow” small objects from the man who lives there. John Goodman plays a sinister businessman looking to demolish the house they call home.
Gulliver’s Travels, a classic tale originally written by Jonathan Swift in the 18th century, has seen multiple cinematic interpretations over the years. This one starred Jack Black as Gulliver, who washes up on the shore of the island Lilliput inhabited entirely by a race of miniature people who take him prisoner. So much for tiny characters posing no threat.
Thumbelina is no bigger than a regular-sized person’s thumb. Her tale is fraught with fairies, frozen princes, corrupt toads, evil moles…come to think of it, pretty much every creature in the forest that isn’t a bird, a fairy, or Thumbelina is a giant jerk.
An American Tail
The American dream gets the teeny animal treatment when a family of Russian mice makes the arduous journey to the promising West in Don Bluth’s An American Tail. To this day, the song “Somewhere Out There” still brings the tears.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Among Disney’s best live action movies is 1989’s 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,' about a whacked-out inventor whose latest work accidentally shrinks the kids and sends them on a voyage through the untamed jungle of…their own backyard. The quartet encounters terrifying ants, bees, and the massive whirling blades of a lawnmower as they make their way back home.
In 1953, J.M. Barrie’s classic tale became one of Disney’s most beloved animated films. Disney’s Peter Pan introduced a new generation to the story of a boy who never grew up, a world of pirates, mermaids and Lost Boys, and an impish little pixie named Tinkerbell.
Big Top Pee-Wee
While not quite as good as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Big Top Pee-Wee is still fun. One day, a storm literally drops an entire circus onto his lawn Pee-Wee lives on a farm. The ringmaster is married to one of their sideshow attractions: Midge, who fits snuggly into the palm of Mace’s hand. Love is blind…and has no measuring stick.
While most of the main characters in Pixar’s 1995 film Toy Story are smallish, there is one character who comes up particularly short when sized up against the others: Sarge, the leader of green, plastic commandos Woody uses to help take care of day-to-day tasks. He just so happens to be voiced by cinema’s go-to soldier: R. Lee Ermey.
This is admittedly a mouse-heavy list, but what creature better exemplifies diminutiveness? In Disney’s The Rescuers, these little guys found strength in unity and formed a society to help anyone, of any size, who might be in trouble, even using sardine cans on birds for airplanes.
A Bug's Life
After Toy Story, Pixar decided to think even smaller with their follow-up film, an animated reimaging of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. A Bug’s Life tells the story of a young ant seeking brave warriors to help save his colony from a group of malicious grasshoppers.