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|April 28, 2000||
Of mice and men
Move over Mighty Mouse... Roll over Jerry, Mickey and Minnie. There's been an addition to the rodent fraternity. Meet Stuart -- Stuart Little, the newest member of the (b)rat-pack. He's the suave-looking, sweet-talking, sharp-dressing new kid on the block...or should I say, mouse in the house.
Mr and Mrs Little (Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis) of Fifth Avenue, New York, decide they need to adopt a younger sibling for their precocious son, George (Jonathan Lipnicki, who you'll remember from Jerry Maguire). Their search for the ideal brother leads them to a Manhattan orphanage, where they first meet the wisecracking, Little Women reading Stuart (voiced magnificently by Michael J Fox).
They connect at first sight. How could one not love Stuart? After all, he's all of three inches tall, has the bluest eyes and the cutest whiskers. Stuart becomes part of the Little family, even though the orphanage's Mrs Keeper cautions the parents about adopting outside their species.
Stuart, however, has a tough time fitting into humanworld. He doesn't receive the warmest of welcomes at the Littles' quaint cottage. Snowbell (voiced by The Birdcage's Nathan Lane), the family cat, mistakes him for lunch and things get off the wrong paw between the two.
The next morning finds him swallowing detergent as he does a tumble in the washing machine, into which he's been mistakenly chucked. Also, George doesn't seem too pleased about having a mouse for a brother. But Stuart, with his endearing manner, wins George over: brotherly bonding finally takes place over a toy train ride and a toy boat sailing competition.
Winning over Snowbell, though, is another matter altogether. Stuart's feline foe isn't thrilled about having to play pet to a mouse and enlists the assistance of the alley cats lead by Smokey (Chazz Palmintieri), to rid himself of the littlest Little.
What follows, is a literal cat-and-mouse chase, with the entire audience rooting for... the hero, of course. Lots more happens, of course, before, ultimately, in true fairy tale style, good defeats evil and everyone and everything is as hunky-dory as can be.
Stuart Little is a definite summer vacation treat, but it seems a tad dull when compared to director Rob Minkoff's earlier venture, The Lion King. The cast are a little too stiff and Geena's screen presence is not put to best use. Scriptwriters Manoj Night Shyamalan and Greg Brooker have done a relatively good job of adapting E B White's classic.
On the flip, however, are the amazing computer simulated special effects by Oscar winner John Dykstra and his crew. Thanks to digital re-mastering, Stuart yawns, sneezes, gazes at his own reflection in polished hallways, brushes his teeth and even commands a toy sailboat. Snowbell is rather enjoyable, what with his dry humour that keeps the viewer in splits. And Fox is very convincing as the adorable Stuart.
The movie's message of family love, courage and social acceptance is universal and easily driven home. Home, as Stuart proves, truly is where the heart is.
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