12 – Stuart Little

If you told me five years ago that I’d be watching a movie about a mouse who is adopted by humans, I’d probably ask you what kind of drugs you were taking and how many would I need to take to enjoy such puerile piffle. But five years ago we didn’t have the kind of technical wizardry we have now; witness Toy Story, the new Star Wars, or any of the recent Disney films. Five years ago, the mouse would have been a regular rodent with a not-too-subtle voiceover. Remember Homeward Bound, the movie about the two dogs and the cat? There was no computer animation there, and you were basically left with three animals who appeared to cavort onscreen while some humans talked in the background.

So now here we have Stuart Little, a tiny little mouse (voiced by the always-fresh Michael J. Fox) who has lived his entire life in an orphanage. One day, the Littles (Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis) come to the orphanage looking for a brother for their young son George (Jonathan Lipnicki). Of course, with so many cute little boys and girls, it’s impossible to choose – until they come across Stuart, who seems smart, funny, and wise beyond his years. George isn’t too fond of Stuart at the start – he expected something a little… um, taller – but this is a kids’ movie, after all, so eventually they bond as only a boy and his mouse brother can – by winning a boat race against a nasty bully.

There are a few storylines jammed into this 85-minute extravaganza. Stuart wants to learn about his natural parents, the family cat wants to kill him, and the parents want Stuart and George to get along. The way most of it plays out will come off as standard movie fare – predictable to those of us over 10, perhaps – but the winning charm of Fox as the loveable Stuart coupled with an engaging and appealing cast of characters makes up for any familiarity you might feel. On top of it all – the special effects. Now, I’m not one to heap overweening praise on special effects, but at no point during the viewing of this movie did I consider Stuart (or the cat, voiced by Nathan Lane) to be an artificial computer creation. Sure, you have to suspend belief a little bit for this movie, but hey – don’t you have to do that with almost any movie, anyway?

PRO: Cute characters, fun plot, and state-of-the-art effects

CON: Little predictable for adults

Stuart Little: 7

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