TAKE a fairytale about an orphaned, talking mouse adopted by a human family. Give it the big screen treatment. Unleash upon it some of the latest hi-tech special effects. Pack it with enough saccharine to poison the chief sweet taster at Cadbury’s. What do you get? Stuart Little.
While the potted synopsis above pretty much sums up the raison d’etre of this purpose-made kids’ movie, it is by no means a fair comment on what is, in truth, an exceptional children’s film with a foot firmly in the past and future.
Past because it resolutely belongs to the long-dead Disney-esque style of movie which millions of children grew up on in the Forties, through to the Seventies, and future because it combines all that is to be applauded about modern computer effects while utilising them to create a beautifully-crafted, heart-rending tale of unconditional love.
The film is based on the story by EB White of Stuart, a mouse desperate for a family of his own after his parents are killed. He is adopted by the Littles, (Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie), who cannot tear themselves away from the adorable little furry white chap.
Stuart is welcomed wholeheartedly by the Littles’ son, George (Jonathan Lipnicki, the cute moppet from Jerry Maguire) but is less popular with Snowball, the Littles’ cat, who resolves to dispose of the interloper by any means possible.
Then there are the Stouts, who spirit Stuart away from his new home, providing our mini hero with a succession of adventures as he is swallowed up by all the inherent dangers of the big city – New York.
As a throwback to those wonderful kiddies’ pictures of yore, Stuart Little is a triumph. It helps that both Davis and Laurie as his frightfully kind surrogate parents positively ooze oodles of love, providing the perfect family backdrop for this bizarre but immensely likeable story.
Part of the delight of Stuart Little is in the infectious way Michael J Fox gives voice to the mousey hero, bringing nuances which, indisputably, elicit a cacophony of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience.
And it’s not just the women – men fall for this little fella too. It’s that type of film, a delightful, perfectly constructed fable which will enthral and entertain just as Walt Disney’s classics of yesteryear did.
As computer-generated effects go, the work which went into creating Stuart is some of the very best this particular reviewer has ever seen. It is seamlessly done – inserted into the live action with ne’er a giveaway line or fuzzy backdrop. Given that it was the work of revered effects maestro John (Star Wars) Dykstra, it should be good.
Director Rob (The Lion King) Minkoff and his team are to be applauded for their choice of subject and for the fact that, for once, hi-tech effects have been used to create a classic children’s’ movie and not another sci-fi no-brainer.
Scintillatingly done, and huge fun. Take it from me: you’ll cry.