Stuart Little 2

2002, Movie, PG, 72 mins

Review

STUART LITTLE 2
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This continuation of the story of Stuart (voice of Michael J. Fox), a talking mouse adopted by the incredibly nice Little family, owes less to author E.B. White than contemporary trends in kiddie movies. Littlest New Yorker Stuart is growing up, driving to school in his own tiny car and dreaming of adventure. But his doting mom (Geena Davis) worries constantly because Stuart is so small and vulnerable, and discourages him from straying far from the family's dinky darling West End Avenue town house. Mr. Little (Hugh Laurie), who understands the inchoate longings of boys — even when they're mice — tries to help, but the opportunities for a tiny mouse to get squished considerably outweigh those for him to cut a bold swath through the big bad world. Even older brother George (Jonathan Lipnicki) is finding new friends and interests, leaving Stuart feeling useless and unwanted. Then fortune drops a little wounded bird named Margalo (Melanie Griffith) into Stuart's life, and he has a chance to shine. He bandages Margalo's wing, invites her to recuperate Chez Little and experiences the stirrings of first love, making it all the more devastating when Margalo vanishes. Worse, evidence suggests that she wasn't a true friend at all, just a chirping con artist in cahoots with the fearsome Falcon (James Woods), a Fagin-esque character who lords it over Central Park's weak and troubled creatures. Stuart and Margolo are genuine marvels of computer generated special effects, each feather, whisker and strand of fur beautifully rendered. But they're bland and rather boring characters, dumbed down for kids (and parents) who find E.B. White's dry-as-sherry tone too cool and prissy for a world in which modesty has been demoted from virtue to character flaw, and the notion of taking the bitter with the sweet is dismissed as a downer. Better to send the small fry transparent messages about leveling with your parents, being true to your friends, looking for the silver lining and believing in yourself. In any event, character takes a back seat to mini-skateboard stunts in an empty birdbath and the whiz-bang sequence in which Stuart, trapped on a garbage barge while Falcon menaces Margalo and the once-hated family cat, Snowbell (voice of Nathan Lane), does a McGuyver on a broken toy plane and comes to the rescue. The voice work of Lane and Woods give the film a dash of much-needed vinegar. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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