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'Stuart Little 2'

'Stuart Little 2' is an oddly entertaining cat-and-mouse game

Friday, July 19, 2002

By Scott Mervis, Weekend Editor, Post-Gazette

Toys that come to life when humans leave the room. Miniature people living in the walls. Genetically produced aliens befriending hula girls.

 
 
'Stuart Little 2'

RATING: PG for brief mild language

STARRING: Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki and the voices of Michael J. Fox, Melanie Griffith, James Wood and Nathan Lane.

DIRECTOR: Rob Minkoff

WEB SITE: www.sonypictures
.com/stuartlittle

CRITIC'S CALL:

   
 

These all seem like perfectly reasonable situations.

But when a normal, albeit very nerdy, couple adopt a mouse and raise it as their younger son, that's just flat-out weird.

The absurdity is not lost on Snowbell the cat, who, referring to the little rodent being in peril in "Stuart Little 2," quips, "I'll just bring home another mouse in a snazzy outfit."

You go, Snowbell.

Even having read the E.B. White book, I recall watching the original "Stuart Little" and wanting to scream at Geena Davis (Mrs. Little), "It's a MOUSE, for goodness sakes! Adopt one of those kids."

Maybe because "Stuart Little 2" doesn't begin with a decision at an orphanage, it's a little easier to take.

In the sequel, "Stuart" is ingrained as a member of the family, for better or worse -- this is a brood that greets each other with "Little high, Little low, Little hey, Little ho" -- but is having some social problems at school, probably owing to the fact that he's a mouse.

While he's cruising the streets in his sports car, a friend literally falls into his life in the form of Margalo (voice of Melanie Griffith), a wounded bird fleeing the attack of a vicious Falcon (James Woods). Margalo and Falcon are actually a couple of con artists about to work a scam on the Littles.

When she flies the coop with Mrs. Little's diamond ring, the unsuspecting Stuart sets out to save her from the clutches of the Falcon. Will he get his bird friend back? Does Margalo really have the heart to scam little Stuart?

This should be sufficient to entertain the kiddies for a fast-paced 70 minutes that will be forgotten almost immediately after leaving the theater. And not just because Stuart's so cute playing soccer, flying planes and riding skateboards. Michael J. Fox, voice of the mouse, gets the marquee, but the best lines go to Nathan Lane as Snowbell, the droll cat whose preoccupation with irony and bathroom humor gives "Stuart Little" its laughs and its PG rating.

The very premise of "Stuart Little" is odd, so plot and other details might as well be, too. Such as, is this story line supposed to give us that opportunity to explore the concept of con artists with our preschoolers?

And what exactly are we supposed to make of Davis, doing another bizarre turn as the wildly overprotective mom (with a new infant daughter) vamping around in skintight skirts and sweaters?

Also strange is the way the filmmakers linger over the skyline of New York City, and then even have Stuart Little fly his toy plane directly toward it.

"Stuart Little" is a strange little universe, indeed. Only Snowbell seems to realize it.

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