A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stuart Little is a 1999 movie loosely based on the E. B. White book about a kindly couple who adopt a sweet mouse who faces danger from the house cat and his feline friends, as well as a pair of duplicitous mice, as he tries to get accustomed to his new life. While on the whole this is a sweet movie, there are some moments of iffy humor, including cat flatulence and a cat joking about licking himself. There is more profanity than you would think for a family movie: "damn" and "hell" plus plenty of mild mean words and phrases such as "shut up" and "loser." There are also some moments of peril, as Stuart is in constant danger from the cats who do not want to accept him as being part of his adoptive family. In fact, cat lovers might take exception to the movie's depiction of cats as being little more than selfish and hateful murderers, even as the house cat finds some bit of redemption later in the movie. As the movie addresses the issue of adoption and the emotional transitions parents and kids face, adoptive and foster families may want to think carefully about whether the themes will be upsetting or reassuring to their children.
What's the story?
Mr. and Mrs. Little (Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis) drop son George (Jonathan Lipnicki) off at school on their way to the orphanage to adopt a child. They fall in love with Stuart (voice of Michael J. Fox), who is charming, insightful, unselfish -- and a mouse. Despite warnings against "interspecies" adoption, they bring him home. George is disappointed and doesn't see how Stuart will ever be able to play with him. And maybe he is a little more jealous than he was expecting. The Little's cat, Snowbell (hilariously voiced by Nathan Lane), is furious and plots to get rid of Stuart. Stuart manages to surmount enormous obstacles. He even wins over George, after proving his courage and loyalty in a boat race. But he still wonders about his birth parents. Stuart faces the biggest decision of his life when two mice show up claiming to be his birth parents.
Is it any good?
E.B. White's story of a family whose son happens to be a mouse is lovingly Hollywood-ized. In other words, it bears very little relationship to the book but has a lot of great special effects. Fans of the book will do well to stay at home and re-read it, but families looking for some good action scenes, appealing characters, and a wise-cracking cat will enjoy it very much.
This is a terrific movie for families who can overlook the potty humor and profanity. Stuart, created entirely through computer graphics, is perfectly integrated into the live action, especially the exciting boat race and chase sequences. The script by M. Night Shyamalan does not talk down to kids and has some genuine insights about sibling rivalry, the fear of failure, and family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books based on movies. Are the movies ever as good as the books? Have you read the book upon which this movie is based?
How were the moments of violence and peril shown in the film? Did they seem necessary to the story, or did they seem forced in to make the movie seem more interesting?
How does this movie address the issue of adoption? How is this similar to and different from the ways in which other movies and TV shows depict adoption?
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