Movie Magazine International

Stuart Little

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Monica Sullivan

"Charlotte's Web" set the impossibly high standard for screen adaptations of E.B. White's classic stories. Made by the Hanna-Barbera studios at their zenith in 1973, "Charlotte's Web" told the story of the unusual friendship between a wise spider and a lovable pig. There were no real villains in the tale: even a crafty rat named Templeton was more of a rogue than a scoundrel. "Stuart Little" is also about an unusual friendship, this time between a lonely boy and the clever mouse his parents adopt as his little brother. The casting is good, (Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie as Mom and Dad plus Jonathan Lipnicki as George and Michael J. Fox as the voice of Stuart) the visual effects are fine and there's an exciting boat race halfway through the film with Kimmy Robertson in a cameo bit as well as the legendary Stan Freberg doing some great color commentary.

But, for a country in which cats have replaced dogs as the number one national pet, "Stuart Little" may strike many cat lovers as the most mean-spirited flick of the entire year, let alone the so-called, ho1iday season. The cats in "Stuart Little" are treacherous thugs and the only redeeming moment for any of them occurs when the Little's house cat, Snowball, behaves in a decidedly uncatlike way. Okay, so I'm a prejudiced grownup, since I've been madly in love with cats my whole life. But the kids in the Kabuki theatre squirmed as much as I did and there was no chorus of approval afterwards. Cats don't really kill out of malice or spite, they prey to feed themselves or to leave love offerings on the doorsteps of their human companions. Most kids understand this, but not the producers of this nasty bit of anthropomorphism.

All the bad cats are punished here, not to death, but close enough that I dread the derivative rituals that might be enacted by viewers too young to know any better. "Stuart Little" trades on the popularity of "Beetlejuice", "Homeward Bound: The incredible Journey" & even "A Christmas Story" (since Lipnicki's a dead ringer for young Peter Billingsley). All that's missing is the daffiness, tension and charm.

© 1999 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 12/15/99

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