stuart little 2 (2002)


director: rob minkoff

geena davis, hugh laurie
voices of: michael j. fox, melanie griffith, nathan lane, james woods

As a sequel, Rob Minkoff's Stuart Little 2 moves even farther away from the original E.B. White story that inspired the original film, and thus further from the most interesting conceit of the whole story - just why do these people, the earnest, abidingly cheerful Littles, think that a little talking mouse is their child?

There's nothing in Stuart Little 2 that hints at any pondering of this disturbing question as, by now, little Stuart (voiced once again by Michael J. Fox) is the middle child, a cute but mute baby daughter having been added to the Little clan. Sure, Mrs. Little (Geena Davis, a terribly sexy mom in tight sweaters and high heels) is anxious about her very little boy playing soccer with the big boys, but it's played straight, as if he were just behind on his growth spurt.

Stuart just needs a friend his own size, and it's provided for him one day when Margalo, an injured bird, literally falls from the sky and lands in the passenger seat of Stuart's tiny sports car. Margalo, voiced by Melanie Griffith, charms her way into the household, and Stuart is smitten. Little do the trusting Littles know that Margalo is really working for the fiendish Falcon (James Woods), casing the Littles' home for valuables.

No explanation is given for what an avian predator would want with Mrs. Little's diamond ring, but it's the maguffin that powers the slim vehicle that is Stuart Little 2's plot. Much as the soccer game is just an opportunity to show tiny Stuart scampering about between the cleats of the other boys, the ring gives the animators a chance to put Stuart in a little biplane to duel with Falcon over Central Park.

A sweet but slight bit of film, Stuart Little 2, even more than the first film, is really just an excuse to show off some of the most subtle and splendid character animation possible today. One scene alone, where Stuart goes to bed troubled and anxious, showcases a startling range of wonderfully expressive movements of the mouse boy's eyes, forehead and mouth. Stuart, an entirely digital character, is a far better actor now than too many flesh-and-blood actors are through most of their careers.