Directed by Rob Minkoff. USA. 2002.
The film opens with an aerial vision of New York City, my own home town, ultimately focusing in on “the Little house”, a traditional family home that is nestled between two large buildings. It could have been the view from a double-winged Jenny in flight, with an upbeat musical background. The cinematography is so lovely, peaceful and pristine; it gives the feeling of gliding into a storybook, of Stuart Little’s world. The C.G. effects are gorgeous, and create an impression of the world from a child’s innocent perspective. Director Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little) brought every detail together meticulously. As with the first Stuart Little, it has its’ foundation on the storybook by E. B. White. The screenplay, by Bruce Joel Rubin, has delightful parallels to the first Stuart Little, and takes the plot, the characters, and their relationships a step farther, as Stuart continues growing up in his family.
Michael J. Fox’s, Stuart Little (Atlantis, The Lost Empire, Spin City) was movingly portrayed as a child who wanted nothing more than the love of a family; he draws you into his inner world. Combining Michael J. Fox’s vocalization, and “facial close ups” to the orchestration of his movements and body language, Stuart is expressive with his entire being. Stuart Little seems to take on a great deal of Fox’s personality, as he humbly states, “This time I understood the character, and I understood the relationships with everybody. It was fun.”
Mr. Little was the idyllic father, played by Hugh Laurie (Sense and Sensibility, Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, Maybe Baby). The unique father and son bond was convincing, as in the scene where he sat down with Stuart (Michael J. Fox) and gave him the inspiration to “look for the silver lining”.
Geena Davis (Thelma and Louise, The Accidental Tourist, Stuart Little) portrayed the image of a loving, ideal mom, perhaps embodying the perfection of a child’s sentimental memory. Her understanding and gullibility were carried out to an extent this time that was spoofy, as well as in her relationship with Mr.Little.
Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire, Stuart Little) is natural and endearing as Stuart’s brother George, who is making new friends outside of his family, and discovering his own independence.
Nathan Lane (The Lion King, The Producers, The Birdcage) is Snowbell, the lushly furry, rehabilitated family cat, who still feels a bit overlooked. Lane’s offhand comments combined with the cat’s facial expressions and tendency to be the underdog are brought together in a way that is hilarious.
Melanie Griffith (Crazy in Alabama, Working Girl) is a Margalo, the beautiful parakeet who drops into Stuart’s car, and his life. Griffith’s performance brings a sweet, childlike nature, to the little bird, whose succeptibility to the love of Stuart leads her to want to end her partnership with the horrible Falcon.
The character of Falcon, played by James Woods (Ghosts of Mississippi, Disney’s Hercules), was written rather one dimensionally. I was looking for some reaction to Margalo’s change of heart that gave a hint of insight as to what inspired him to choose his lifestyle or respond with so much malice. Falcon’s nature could have been instrumental if it gave even a touch of insight into what made him react that way. The circumstances of Falcon’s demise were also unnecessarily violent and very out of place as they involved the character of Stuart Little. Had it been a fairytale where most of the characters were seen in a light that was one or even two dimensional, it would have been the norm. However, all the characters were portrayed in a way that their interpretation was very real. The level of intensity would be frightening to younger children. It was like a blotch on the palette that needed more of an explanation and synchrony. Aside from this, it was a strong performance by Woods, which makes him come across as invincible until faced with the slapstick karma of the little mouse’s life, and the bonds of loyalty, which became apparent among the characters.
In general, Stuart Little 2 is a beautifully written, performed and animated work. The upbeat, comical tone was continuous throughout the movie. It floated along, like a gentle ride through the sky, which balanced comedic timing with intensity.
The soft, bright pastel tones, and ability to create realistic expressions including the animated creatures’ body language and intense, anemographic imagery all contribute to the feeling of warmth, realness, and sentience, of this beautiful story and the absolute “touch ability” of it’s characters. In expression and in emotive physicality, they seemed to even resemble the actors who portrayed them.
I loved this movie. The
nuances are precious. I was also fortunate enough to have seen it
with very good company, and have the chance to giggle out loud through
the entire hour and twenty-five minutes with a 6 year old. For me,
it was just too short. I didn’t want to leave, and floated around for a
while, talking to every creature along the path home, still gliding around
in the world of Stuart Little.
For Further Introspection
Stuart Little 1 : Behind the Amazing Movie Book
Production notes for the film can be found at:
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