Stuart Little

Family portrait: Stuart has a face-off with Snowbell over who's the master and who's the pet.
dir Rob Minkoff
scr M Night Shyamalan, Greg Brooker
with Hugh Laurie, Geena Davis, Jonathan Lipnicki, Jeffrey Jones, Allyce Beasley, Brian Doyle-Murray, Estelle Getty, Harold Gould, Julia Sweeney, Dabney Coleman
voices Michael J Fox, Nathan Lane, Steve Zahn, Jennifer Tilly, Chazz Palminteiri, Bruno Kirby, David Alan Grier Columbia 99/US 4 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
It's taken ages to finally make a film of EB White's classic, probably because the technology never existed before to blend live action and animation so seamlessly. And while Stuart Little only uses the basic idea from the novel, it captures the sense of absurdity that makes the story so endearing. This is that rare children's film that works perfectly for grown-ups as well with its witty story, sharp performances and astonishing special effects that never draw attention to themselves.

When Mr and Mrs Little (Laurie and Davis) adopt a mouse as a son, they know they'll have to do some adjusting. But Stuart (voiced by Fox) is excited to have a family, even if his new big brother George (Lipnicki) is taking awhile to warm up to the idea ... and the family's pet cat Snowbell (voiced by Lane) is humiliated to have a mouse as his master. Then the adventures begin, as Stuart helps George with a sailboat race and Snowbell enlists some feline Mafiosi in an elaborate plot to restore his dignity.

Shyamalan and Brooker's script is wonderful, never condescending to its audience, keeping the characters real and injecting every scene with dry wit and some hilarious gags. And Minkoff creates a terrific world--like a fairy tale version of New York in which talking cats and nattily-dressed mice driving sleek miniature roadsters hardly raise an eyebrow. (Well, come to think of it, maybe they wouldn't.) Every little detail is carefully conceived, and it works brilliantly, including a gently handled moral at the end. So even if it lacks White's tender intelligence, the film creates a world all its own. And while entertaining the kids it'll keep a broad smile on the faces of adults as well.

[U--some innuendo, suspense] 17.May.00
US release 17.Dec.99; UK release 21.Jul.00

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"The animation is really quite, quite breathtaking - especially the cats. I've never seen anything like it. The story is sweet, and Stuart is just the cutest little mouse you ever did see! And nice to hear Michael J Fox in the role. The whole thing was engaging and delightful; and I really enjoyed the touches like the mouse-clothes shopping trip, and Stuart's drive through Central Park in the Roadster. Genuine family entertainment" --Jo C, West Sussex.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall