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1 item from 1999

Film review: 'Stuart Little'

9 December 1999 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Columbia Pictures' "Stuart Little" is well-crafted, enjoyable and very audience-friendly at an economical 85 minutes. Former Disney animator and "The Lion King" co-director Rob Minkoff, along with a big assist from Sony Pictures Imageworks, has delivered a commercial winner that will delight younger viewers and adults who warmed up to "MouseHunt" and "Babe".

The season's most promising family draw, loosely based on E.B. White's 1945 children's classic, "Stuart Little" is an inspired combination of sophisticated special effects and imaginative comedy, a mix of live action and animation based on the fantasy concept of a family adopting a son who is "somewhat like a mouse."

The screenplay credited to M. Night Shyamalan and Greg Brooker discards most of White's original story but is faithful in its portrayal of the lead, who is a surrogate for sweet, honest, underappreciated orphans everywhere who are looking for a home and a loving family. Cats are the big villains as Stuart (voiced perfectly by Michael J. Fox) has several adventures and brushes with danger in the process of becoming a Little.

Mr. and Mrs. Little (Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis) are squeaky-clean Manhattanites living in a brownstone next to Central Park. Their young son George (Jonathan Lipnicki) wants a "little brother," but there's an awkward acceptance period when Stuart is chosen for adoption because of his personality and "uniqueness."

If George is disappointed, the family feline, Snowbell (voiced by Nathan Lane), is seriously threatened and tempted. Their initial encounter is almost the end of Stuart, and during the course of the movie, Bad Kitty gets his comeuppance several times. But cat lovers rest assured, the nobler aspects felines are not forgotten.

George is won over when Stuart heroically captains his toy boat in a hotly contested race. But just as he's feeling a part of the family, a couple of shady grown-up mice (Bruno Kirby and Jennifer Tilly) claim to be his biological parents, and Stuart goes off with them. But things don't work out, and Stuart drives a little red sports car back to the Littles, encountering a pack of cats in the park for an exciting chase sequence.

On a tricky wavelength that employs a lot of visual slapstick, but never unduly cruel in the fashion of the "Home Alone" movies, "Stuart Little" is the most fun in the numerous scenes with Stuart dodging Snowbell and furry friends, including streetwise toms hilariously voiced by the likes of Chazz Palminteri, Steve Zahn and Jim Doughan. Stan Freberg, Jeffrey Jones, Julia Sweeney, Dabney Coleman and Estelle Getty make small contributions.


Sony Pictures Releasing

Columbia Pictures presents

A Douglas Wick and

Franklin/Waterman production

Director: Rob Minkoff

Producer: Douglas Wick

Screenwriters: M. Night Shyamalan, Greg Brooker

Based on the book by: E.B. White

Executive producers: Jason Clark, Jeff Franklin, Steve Waterman

Director of photography: Guillermo Navarro

Production designer: Bill Brzeski

Editor: Tom Finan

Music: Alan Silvestri

Costume designer: Joseph Porro

Senior visual effects supervisor: John Dykstra

Casting: Debra Zane



Voice of Stuart Little: Michael J. Fox

Mrs. Little: Geena Davis

Mr. Little: Hugh Laurie

George Little: Jonathan Lipnicki

Voice of Snowbell: Nathan Lane

Running time -- 85 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG


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1 item from 1999

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