These Animals Talk! Marathon: Stuart Little (1999)

When I saw who was responsible for the screenplay of Stuart Little I was shocked and then some!

Screenplay By: Greg Brooker & M. Night Shyamalan
Directed By: Rob Minkoff

There’s a boat race in Stuart Little, specifically a yachting race. These aren’t life size boats, rather they are miniature yachts that are a combination of electric and wind powered. The yacht race is an important sequence in Stuart Little. The yacht race sequence fully lays out why Stuart Little is a movie that works.

The yacht race sequence looks amazing. The fake backgrounds in this sequence, and throughout the rest of the film, give the impression of a matte painting. Said backgrounds are also reminiscent of the technicolor trappings of the background in a film like Gone With The Wind. The backgrounds draw the attention of the viewers eye but at the same time they make all the colors in the foreground appear that much more vibrant. When Geena Davis wears a red dress it is as red as can be thanks to the way the background allows her dress to stand out.

At the same time the yacht race sequence is suspenseful. The film has taken a tiny mouse and put him in a tense situation and I felt that tension. The realization of this tension takes the movie beyond its simple fairy tale premise and into one of true human warmth and caring. There is an earnestness to the proceedings in Stuart Little. There isn’t much tongue in cheek about the film and it shows in how all of the actors and the production give it their all to bring this tale to life. I cared about what happened to the characters in Stuart Little and I honestly did not believe going into the film that I would find myself in that position.

The yacht race also highlights the fairy tale elements of the film. From early on the film asks us to believe some very impossible things and I ended up being more than willing to go along for the ride. The characters reference the fairy tale aspect on more than one occasion but their talk isn’t a mere dalliance with irony. Rob Minkoff, and the writers, don’t go for irony. They aim higher than irony or quirk, they present a world that envelops the viewer in such a way that the only option is to believe that a mouse can become a member of the Little family. This goes back to the idea of warmth and humanity, by making us care all those involved made the fairy tale one that I was willing to dive right into.

Stuart Little certainly isn’t a great film. It is slight and it is hokey at times. But, its flaws are surpassed by its charm and its smarts. I liked Stuart Little far more than I thought I would and that is a testament to how well made the movie is. The visuals found in Stuart Little are interesting and appealing to the eye. The story is a fairy tale that everyone can believe in. Stuart Little is a film that hits its marks and hits them well, with a hint of warmth and the always welcome presence of humanity.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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2 responses to “These Animals Talk! Marathon: Stuart Little (1999)

  1. I’ve seen the sequel, which was fine. The voice acting was pretty good. Maybe I should seek out the original, Isn’t this series based on children books, or am I just making that up?

  2. Yep, the series is based on a lone children’s book that I do in fact own. 🙂

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