Say Cheese!

A rodent with wisdom beyond his years make this a must-see for parents and children alike.

Just in time for the summer holidays comes "Stuart Little", a movie about a little mouse with a big heart, based on the books by E. B. White. The Littles are looking for a brother for their son George; when they visit the orphanage, they meet Stuart, a smooth-talking mouse who steals their heart with his charm and patience. The Littles decide to adopt him, and bring him home - unfortunately, though, the rest of the family is not quite as accomodating. George can't stand the thought of a mouse for a brother, while Snowbell the family cat is afraid of becoming the butt of neighbourhood jokes - after all, as he says, "who ever heard of a mouse with a pet cat?!".

A few misadventures later, Stuart slowly begins to find acceptance in the Little home, and the growing friendship between George and Stuart is cemented when Stuart wins a boat race for George in the park. Unfortunately, Snowbell's another matter altogether - he's asked the neighbourhood alley cat, superbly voiced by Chazz Palminteri, to "take care of Stuart" for him...and it's when Stuart is kidnapped that this movie actually comes into its own. Stuart's mad dash for freedom from his captors, and the resulting chase scenes in Manhattan's Central Park with Stuart in a toy roadster and a bunch of alley cats tearing after him, are easily some of the best ever seen in an animated flick, well on par with the pursuit scenes in Disney's "The Lion King." Needless to say, all ends well, and Stuart is restored to the welcoming arms of his adopted family.

As with all children's movies, "Stuart Little" is a simple fairy tale, in which the characters are sharply delineated, and the adventure is engrossing while still easy to understand. Stuart, as the computer-generated rodent, is amusing and cute, and should appeal to children, while the movie's overall feel-good attitude should provide some welcome relief to audiences tired of traditional wham-bam Hollywood action flicks. The script is charming, and has some truly hilarious lines - don't miss the scene where Stuart accuses Snowbell of lying, and Snowbell caustically replies, "Hey - we're in Manhattan!" - and Smokey the alley cat's performance as a feline version of the Godfather is also side-splittingly funny in places. In summary, a fun movie for the whole family!

This article was first published on 19 Apr 2000.