Stuart Little 2
2 out of 5 stars
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They had three years to make this sequel to the original, which was a surprising critical and box office success in 1999. So why does this film feel so rushed? It picks up with the Little family in Manhattan, only now Stuart (Fox) is feeling lonely and left out. His overprotective mother (Davis) doesn't want him to play soccer with his friends, and after one match you can see why. His big brother (Lipnicki) has other friends now. His fluffy cat Snowball (Lane) is as grouchy as ever. And his overly nice dad (Laurie) keeps telling him to look for the silver lining. So Stuart befriends the injured Margalo (Griffith), a mouse-sized bird being chased by an evil falcon (Woods), who is in fact using her to rob from the Little family. Can Stuart rescue Margalo and teach the mean old falcon a lesson? Silly question.

Compared to the first film, it's like the filmmakers were working in their sleep. Part 2 lacks any real spark; the acting and direction seem only about halfway there, with no real conviction at all. And the script shows only glimpses of originality, pasting together family movie cliches and hitting the mark with only about one joke out of four. Even the action sequences seem contrived and derivative in a way the first film never was. That said, the effects are again far above average; the animal characters are seamless, and so engaging that you want a set for your very own. There is just enough comic action to keep the kids giggling ... and perhaps enough moments of sublime humour to keep the adults from going mad with boredom. Most of the laughs come from Lane's wacky vocal gymnastics as the increasingly miffed Snowball, the only character with attitude. But if this is going to become a franchise, the next chapter will need to be much more creative than this one.

cert U suspense, mild vulgarity 14.Jul.02

dir Rob Minkoff
scr Bruce Joel Rubin
with Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki, Marc John Jeffries, Angelo Massagli, Jim Dooghan, Amelia Marshall, Maria Bamford
voices Michael J Fox, Nathan Lane, Melanie Griffith, James Woods, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris
release UK/US 19.Jul.02
02/US 1h18

Family crisis. Dad and Mom (Laurie and Davis) try to comfort George (Lipnicki), upset because Stuart crashed his toy aeroplane.

fox lane griffith woods
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall