Film Reviews: Wednesday, July 18, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Mouse House

The sequel to Stuart Little is pretty much the same thing again.

By KRISTIAN LIN

Three years ago, E.B. White’s classic children’s novel Stuart Little was the basis for a film featuring actors performing opposite computer-generated animals. Even though the film bore only a passing resemblance to White’s novel, and even though the movie Stuart didn’t have near the psychological depth of the Stuart in the book, the film still made a pile of money during the Christmas season.

So now we have Stuart Little 2, a continuation of the adventures of the mouse adopted and brought up like a human by a family that’s so cozy, they live in a red two-story house between two high-rise apartment buildings in the middle of a Manhattan city block — that visual juxtaposition always struck me as very charming. Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox) now feels wholly accepted by the Littles, but he’s finding it hard to make friends at school and wishes he had someone his size to talk to. That someone literally falls out of the sky: A wounded canary named Margalo (voiced by Melanie Griffith) is being chased by a mean and hungry falcon, and Stuart saves her life and gives her shelter. They become quick friends, maybe a little too quick, because Margalo may have an ulterior motive in staying with the Littles.

The original’s script was co-written by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable), but the writing in the sequel is actually better, courtesy of Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost, Jacob’s Ladder). The dialogue is snappier, and the music on the soundtrack (the atrocious Celine Dion song over the end credits notwithstanding) is used pretty astutely — Harry Nilsson’s “One Is the Loneliest Number” comes out of nowhere. When Stuart and Margalo watch a romantic movie together, it’s Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and in the context of the story, it’s a neat touch. As in the original, the Littles’ Persian cat Snowbell (voiced by Nathan Lane) provides great comic relief. “I try to eat right, but I still feel bloated,” Snowball kvetches as he walks toward his dish. “Maybe more food will help.”

The problems from the original movie remain, though. Stuart’s a bland character and an uninteresting presence on the screen. Even though Margalo brings a falcon with James Woods’ voice into the film, she’s the same way, so we’ve got twice the blandness to deal with. The story’s not too original, and the material written for the human characters is much weaker than it is for the animals, which is a waste of the Littles (Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, and Jonathan Lipnicki). Director Rob Minkoff knows how to make us see the world from Stuart’s point of view, with all objects blown up to giant size, but he doesn’t know how to build a scene or put together a decent action sequence. All in all, Stuart Little 2 is pretty much run-of-the-mill for a summer sequel, and nothing to get excited about.


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