'Stuart Little' strays too far from original book

'Stuart Little' strays too far from original book

Some of the most enjoyable cinematic experiences occur when we see our childhood friends and heroes immortalized on the big screen, when we are encouraged to dredge up aliens and dragons, animals and princes from the depths of our minds to relive the glories and the fantasies again.

Don't expect that with Stuart Little .

The original book by E.B. White, who also gave us the classic Charlotte's Web , is a charming tale of mischief and humor, interlaced with lessons that children's authors feel pressured to insert into their work, but only the very best like White manage to weave skillfully into the story.

To say the film has taken liberties with the original text would be a sure contender for the Oscar for Best Understatement of the Year. M. Night Shyamalan, the man who gave us The Sixth Sense , has attempted to script a fresh viewpoint on the book.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, he took a turn and ended up at the wrong mouse hole. The movie Stuart Little still has redeeming points.

The mouse, for starters, is one that will spark off wild betting on the number of times that your date goes, "Aw, he's so cute."

The special effects and animation, already ruling the roost during the time of Babe, have improved to the point where the animals look perfectly natural talking and moving around like human beings. Sometimes one forgets that the characters on screen are merely pixels on a computer screen tucked away in one of the graphics studios populating Hollywood.

The Littles, a sweet little picture book couple, decide to visit the orphanage to adopt a brother for their son George.

There they meet Stuart, who has spent quite a while at the orphanage and offers to guide them around to help make their choice.

Rightly deciding that he is adorable, they adopt him then and there.

The quick-witted would have already put their fingers on the flaw: Mice don't talk.

White realized this deep scientific truth and sensibly left such philosophy out of his original text, but it is one of the many irking contradictions that cripples the movie.

Stuart finds acceptance hard to come by at home, with relatives greeting his arrival with raised eyebrows. Even George rejects his "brother" in the beginning.

And to make it worse, Snowbell the cat decides to buck his feline nature and hatches plots to remove the scourge of Stuart from the face of the earth.

The story takes predictable routes from the outset, and ends with an unsurpassed mushiness that will have you feeling warm or gagging, depending upon the type of person you are. The astounding animation is supported by good voice performances by some fairly big name actors.

Michael J. Fox voices Stuart to perfection and Nathan Lane is hilarious as Snowbell. Ironically, the flesh-and-blood actors are mediocre. But then again, it must be hard to be upstaged by a fellow thespian a fraction of your size.

— Reviewed by Samanth Iyer

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