It took 150 animators and digital artists over 3 years to complete the sequel to Stuart Little. It shows - Stuart Little 2 looks fantastic. This Stuart Little may still have little in common with the E B White book that inspired its creation, save a few characters' names, but it's a family flick that's truly worth the price of admission for everyone, no matter what the source of the story.
The film is a simple yarn about friendship and family, and has its share of warm-hearted moments, light adventure, obvious humor (jokes kids will get) and subtle comedy (jokes kids won't get but their parents will). Like part one, the film is set in New York City, and everyone is nice to each other (yes, that's hard to believe, because the air in the real NYC smells like someone has been frying goats in it, and the people generally act like that is your fault).
The movie essentially deals with what happens when the older child outgrows the younger one and starts spending more time with his school friends. This is a theme that many children, and more than a few adults, will be able to relate to: the point at which the younger brother or sister is a pest and not a playmate.
Freed from the constraints of having to introduce everyone, the screenplay goes off in more interesting directions. It's two years on, and Stuart (again perfectly voiced by Michael J Fox) is feeling down. He's feeling left out from brother George's (Lipnicki) life, his mother (Davis) is being overprotective, and new baby Martha is getting all the attention. An ideal time, then, for romance to enter his life.
Sure enough, one day while Stuart is on the way home from school, a new friend falls from the sky and into his car. She is a bird, her name is Margalo (voiced by Melanie Griffith) and Stuart finally has someone to relate to. She's soon kidnapped by a
villainous falcon (Woods), though, forcing Stuart to mount a rescue bid, with the perpetually flummoxed family cat Snowbell (Lane) along for the ride.
Michael J Fox picks up where he left off providing the voice of the lead character. Nathan Lane returns as the scene-stealing Snowball, the Littles' disgruntled cat, easily the life of the movie. Melanie Griffith comfortably settles into her vocal role after a shrill start. The only shame is the limited screen time given to Nathan Lane's one-liner-stocked Snowball and Steve Zahn's Monty (meriting a mere cameo). Expertly done special effects will have kids thinking Stuart and Margalo are real, and it is evident that a great deal of thought and no little expertise went into the animation.
Throughout the movie, children are encouraged to fill their lives with adventures. And to always look for the silver lining when those adventures don't turn out the way they are supposed to. The great thing about Stuart Little is that it can transport the most jaded adults and let them see things through the trusting eyes of a child again. And that is a profoundly precious gift to bestow on anyone.
The ending of the movie is affirmative of the two most important things in life: family and friends. But what comes at the end will make you long for more of what you saw in the beginning. Regardless, this one is a must see.