In a stunningly uninspired effort, Laurie and Davis star as Mr. and Mrs.
Little, parents of George, who decide to adopt a second son. When they visit
the local orphanage, they are so perplexed about which child to bring home
with them, they opt for a member of the establishment's rodent population
instead. George, who expected a little brother, is understandably disappointed,
but the one who is really put off is Snowbell, the family's long-haired
white cat (Lane). If the other cats find out that Stuart is a member of
the Little family, and therefore one of Snowbell's "masters,"
he'll never live it down. Although Stuart (Fox) eventually wins George over,
he finds himself at the center of a malicious conspiracy perpetrated by
Snowbell, his alley-cat friend Monty (Zahn), and a pair of mice who are
hired to act as Stuart's biological family (Bruno Kirby and Jennifer Tilly).
A few years ago, a film like Stuart Little would have been looked at as a technical masterpiece. Making animals appear to talk is a relatively new thing, but since Babe, it's been done, and what makes or breaks a movie like this is the charm of the characterizations. Babe had tons of charm. Stuart Little does not. Most of the human actors are clearly just putting in time until their next big feature; Lipnicki simply looks bored. Too bad director Minkoff couldn't inspire his actors to show a little more energy. The vocal characterizations are handled adequately by their performers, but the situations are so trite, there is nothing interesting for them to do. Moreover, their computer-animated mouth movements are not blended very well, so we are more interested in looking for seams in the celluloid fabric than in listening to what they have to say. Thank goodness, I'm sure Minkoff is saying, thank goodness children don't know the difference. **½
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