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Stuart Little Review

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★★★★★

Hold onto your cheese, because even before Stuart Little is off the ground and running, there’s already a sequel in the pipeline. That’s not surprising given that this film was a Christmas hit in the States, filling studio coffers to the tune of just over $140 million. What’s more surprising is that, for such a sizeable hit, this film has created very little buzz in this country. It’s also been kind of glossed over in scriptwriter M. Night Shyamalan’s recent interviews plugging his other phenomenal hit, The Sixth Sense.

The reason for this is simple. It’s a family film. Families can go and see it and enjoy it, but it doesn’t lend itself to adult conversation and cult appeal in the same way as Toy Story did, despite equally impressive technical trickery. It’s the kind of film mom and dad can take their infants to without having to worry about bad language, violence or the pester power of merchandise.Oh, there’s bound to be a fluffy mouse or two, but it’s nothing next to Pokémon.

Family films are big business and, on that level, this is wholesome fare. But that selling point is also the film’s downfall; it’s just too cute. The pairing of Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie somehow works, although it’s likely Laurie got the gig on the basis that he’s one of the few comic actors tall enough to match the six-foot Davis without standing on a box. Both are convincing when talking to what, when filming, must have been an invisible mouse, but their performances are so heavy on the saccharine, you’ll be avoiding sweets for months afterwards.

Blame Rob Minkoff, because he’s the one who seems to have opted for the sugar-coated tone, even turning the darker aspects of American author E. B. White’s original story into fluff. A kidnap staged by Snowbell’s gang of mates is never convincing, although it is worthwhile listening out for the unusual cat-voice cast, which includes Steve Zahn and Bruno Kirby.

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