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Stuart Little

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Stuart Little

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis
Director: Rob Minkoff
Rated: PG
RunTime: 83 Minutes
Release Date: December 1999
Genres: Kids, Comedy

*Also starring: Estelle Getty, Bruno Kirby, Nathan Lane, Hugh Laurie, Dabney Coleman, Allyce Beasley, Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Tilly

Review by Greg King
3½ stars out of 4

Based on the popular children's book written by Charlotte's Web author E B White, Stuart Little is an absolute charmer of a film that will appeal to audiences of all ages.

When the Littles (Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie) visit the local orphanage to find a brother for their only son George (Jonathan Lipnicki, the terminally cute kid from Jerry Maguire, etc), they return home with a cute, wise cracking little mouse named Stuart.

However, acceptance as part of the family is not quite so easy, as initially George resents his new brother. As does Snowbell (voiced by Nathan Lane), the family cat, who feels neglected since Stuart's acceptance into the family home. He arranges with a pack of alley cats (voiced by Chazz Palminteri and Steve Zahn, et al) to dispose of the pesky Stuart. The determined Stuart has to find his way back home through the hidden dangers of a big city, least of which is the treacherous Central Park.

Brilliant animatronics and computer generated imagery make it seem as if the animals are really talking, and enable Stuart to interact convincingly with his human family. The clever script, from M Night Shyamalan (the superb The Sixth Sense) and Gregory J Brooker, taps into notions of family and that sense of belonging. The clever production design gives the movie some wonderful contrasts that reinforce the fairy tale nature of the whole thing.

Michael J Fox is wonderful, and lends his cheeky presence and superb sense of comic timing to the voice of Stuart, making him an appealing, witty character who will easily ingratiate himself into the audience's affections. But some of the film's best lines belong to Lane, who seems destined to always be hunting mice, as the mischievous feline who plots to get rid of our hero.

Director Rob Minkoff (better known for his animated Disney features like The Lion King) maintains a cracking pace throughout, and brings to the material an astute mix of broad slapstick comedy and pathos.

Although enjoyable enough, this genial little film about a charming rodent is not in the same league as the wonderful Mouse Hunt. Nonetheless, it is perfect family entertainment for the holidays! While the younger fry will enjoy the antics of the animals and the visual humour, older audiences will appreciate the intelligent handling of some important themes.

Copyright 2000 Greg King

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