movie film review | chris tookey

Stuart Little 2

  Stuart Little 2 Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
8.00 /10
Hugh Laurie, Geena Davis, Jonathan Lipnicki
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Directed by: Rob Minkoff
Written by: Bruce Joel Rubin

Released: 2002
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 77

Two years on from the first film, Stuart Little (the talking, nattily dressed, ever-courteous mouse voiced by Michael J. Fox) has grown up and is teetering on the edge of adolescence, but his adoptive mother (Geena Davis) is a shade over-protective. He wants to play soccer with his human brother (Jonathan Lipnicki) but has problems getting picked for the team because of his size. Also, he has an unfortunate tendency to end up in the back of the net, along with the ball. He yearns for adventure, and a friend nearer his own dimensions. And, like most boys his age, he's having identity problems. As he puts it himself, "Am I a man or a mouse?" Into his life - and the passenger seat of his red toy sports car - plummets an injured bird named Margalo (voiced by Melanie Griffith) who is being chased by a ferocious falcon (voiced by James Woods).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Margalo is soon made to feel like one of the Little family, but she has a dark secret. A clue for grown-ups will be that Stuart takes her to a drive-in movie on a portable TV, and the movie they watch is Vertigo, Hitchcock's classic thriller about amorous obsession. Margalo will lead the impetuous Stuart and his more cautious feline friend Snowbell into danger. And it will be time for Stuart to grow up and confront his inner demons.

Stuart Little 2 is cute. Extremely cute. It is one of those rare sequels that are an improvement upon the original - funnier, more colourful, and technically so ingenious that articulate Persian cats and skateboarding mice seem the most natural things in the world.

With it, Rob Minkoff accomplishes a hat-trick of wholesome hits. He directed first The Lion King, then Stuart Little, and now this - another first-rate family entertainment with loads of charm and flair.

The world of the Littles is, if you stop to think about it, weird to the point of surreal. No New Yorker turns a hair when Stuart drives past their ankles in his toy car. Mr Little (Hugh Laurie) must be fabulously wealthy to own a brownstone house so close to Central Park, yet he never seems to work - and he always has time for his family.

It's a small child's idealized view of life. In less skilled hands, the Little world could be sickeningly twee. But the actors and film-makers alike play the whole thing for real, and there's a knowingness, an acerbic aftertaste, that stops the Littles from degenerating into schmaltz. The view of family life comes across instead as refreshingly sweet and good-hearted, an antidote to the cynicism about human nature that underlies most movies.

The outstanding character in the original Stuart Little - a worldwide hit that took over 300 million dollars at the box office - was Snowbell, the curmudgeonly cat so brilliantly voiced by Nathan Lane. That's true of the sequel, too; but the other characters' dialogue has risen in standard to keep up. James Woods as the falcon, for instance, gets almost as many good lines as Lane.

Snowbell is such a marvellous character that he could star in his own spin-off movie. I wished he had more time to express his feline philosophy, dedicated as it is to pampered, Manhattanite cowardice. Where Stuart is feisty and eager to try anything, Snowbell favours the realistic approach. "Giving up is fun," he argues, "and look at all the time you save".

Because this is a family film, it will be dismissed by many critics as mere commercial entertainment; but there's a magic about it, and a generosity of spirit, that deserve more grateful appreciation.

Bruce Joel Rubin's screenplay is as clever as the one which won him an Oscar for Ghost, and Alan Sylvestri's witty score - with echoes of every other Manhattan movie, from West Side Story to Woody Allen's, is another delight. Here is a funny, sunny family film that can be enjoyed by absolutely anyone from 3 to 103.

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