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Movie Review

Stuart Little 2

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Directed by Rob Minkoff, starring Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki and the voices of Michael J Fox, Nathan Lane and Melanie Griffith.

The first 'Stuart Little' film was based on a rather bizarre premise - a New York family adopt a young mouse and, despite, the initial disgust of their son George and family cat, the acerbic Snowbell, everything works out for the best. In this sequel, we return to the Little household two years later to see how happy-ever-after is progressing.

Although Stuart has settled in, he sometimes feels left out of big brother George's life - as well as having to deal with his over-protective mother who would prefer him to paint rather than play soccer with all the other kids. When an injured bird called Margalo falls into his car, he finally finds a friend his own size. But Margalo has a dark past and when it catches up with her, Stuart - assisted by a protesting Snowbell and the loyal George - goes to the rescue.

'SL2' reunites the cast of the original film with Michael J Fox voicing the unbelievably well-animated Stuart. Big brother George is played by Jonathon Lipnicki (in a curiously flat performance) and Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie are again sweetness personified as Eleanor and Fredrick Little. Nathan Lane reprises his scene-stealing role as Snowball's voice, grabbing all the best lines in the process, while the villain role is taken this time round by Falcon, voiced by the overwhelmingly evil-sounding James Woods. In her first voice role, Melanie Griffith sounds great as flirty Margalo, the thieving bird that learns the errors of her ways while teaching Stuart about adventure.

The vividly coloured hyper-realistic world that the Littles inhabit is full of quirky details which lend it a cartoonish quality - the little house that sits cheek by jowl with skyscrapers next to Central Park, Stuart's ½ marking on the back of his football jersey, the tiny red convertible that he drives to school. Davis and Laurie are relentlessly upbeat and optimistic as the parents of the most unrealistic family you're going to come across at the cinema this year, wearing matching outfits of oranges and yellows to match their sunny dispositions. Davis, in particular, makes a great Doris Day-type housewife with her proper breakfasts, flower-gathering and gloves to go with every outfit.

This gentle adventure lacks the freshness of the original but there are plenty of details to keep a young audience entranced as well as a few knowing nods in the direction of accompanying adults. A good solid family film which, at 75 minutes doesn't outstay its welcome.

Caroline Hennessy

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