Charlotte's Web (1973)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the theme of the film is the cycle of life and death, which may frighten younger children. Families may want to discuss these themes. How does the movie make the youngest ones feel? How does Wilbur show his love for Charlotte even after she dies?
What's the story?
Baby pig Wilbur (voiced by Henry Gibson) is the runt of the litter, but a kindly farmer spares his life. Wilbur is befriended by Charlotte (voiced by Debbie Reynolds), a wise spider. When Wilbur learns he's going to be killed for bacon, he's in despair. Charlotte comes up with a plan to save his life. She spins webs with messages that read "Some Pig" and "Radiant." Wilbur becomes a national celebrity, and his life is spared. Unfortunately, Charlotte's life is coming to an end. She spins an egg sack, fills it with hundreds of eggs, and quietly dies. Wilbur guards the sack until Charlotte's babies are born. Most leave, but three stay on the farm, and Wilbur loves them almost as much as he did their mother.
Is it any good?
Based on the classic E. B. White novel, CHARLOTTE'S WEB is a touching story, but it has several flaws: the animation, though good by Hanna-Barbera standards, pales next to even the lesser Disney features; kids with shorter attention spans may find it slow-moving; and some older kids won't buy into the sentimentality. Despite all that, it's a movie well worth sharing with your family, because of its enduring messages about friendship and love.
The movie's barnyard musical menagerie is amusing and child-friendly. Templeton the rat (voiced by a hilariously sly Paul Lynde) has most of the comic highlights, including a rousing song number in which he gluttonously pigs out in a junkyard. Sequences with baby animals will appeal to the youngest members of the audience.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about which people are the most important in each of their lives. What can each person do to show their friends and family that they love them? Families may want to do an art project constructing "webs" of encouraging phrases made of yarn and construction paper fore each member of the family, similar to the ones Charlotte creates for Wilbur.