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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild is a 2005 direct-to-video animated movie. There's talk of a mysterious forest beast that, when it finally does appear, may be slightly scary to very young kids. A character sneaks away from his scouting group repeatedly. One character bribes another, trading food for friendship. Kids at the summer camp verbally taunt Stuart, calling him a "loser." There's some bathroom humor involving bird excrement, flatulence, and animals falling into toilets. A skunk says, "Talk to the butt." A cat says, "I lick myself." Some peril: for Stuart as he nearly drowns while being pulled in the water by a fish, and for animals in the wild trying to avoid being captured by the aforementioned beast. Also, the overall quality has dropped considerably compared to the previous two Stuart Little movies; a relatively cheap animation style is used rather than the mix of live action and CGI in the others.
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What's the story?
Unlike the first two live-action films in the Stuart Little series based on the classic book by E.B. White, STUART LITTLE 3: CALL OF THE WILD is a direct-to-DVD animated movie. In this installment, Stuart (voiced again by Michael J. Fox) and the rest of the Little family are off to spend the summer at a rustic lake house, and Stuart is excited to become a woodsman courtesy of the Lake Scouts summer program. Rumors of a mysterious beast circulate through both the camper and the wild animal community. When the family's city cat Snowball (Nathan Lane) meets the beast, it's time for Stuart and his new friends to come to the rescue.
Is it any good?
Lacking the live-action energy of the first two films, Stuart Little 3 still manages to entertain. This is due mainly to the eternal appeal of a family who loves their mouse son just as much as their human children. Stuart, too, is a great hero for children, small but able to leap great obstacles through ingenuity and perseverance. The characters are voiced by the same actors who appeared in the earlier films, maintaining continuity even if the animation doesn't break any new artistic ground.
There's plenty of comic relief too, from the perpetually disdainful Snowball to smooth-talking but shady skunk Reeko (Wayne Brady). Parents won't find this a terribly entertaining movie, but they can rest assured that it's fine to share with the 5 and up crowd.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what you should do if you ever get lost from your family or friends -- whether it's in the forest or in a more urban setting. Stuart takes some chances by sneaking away; what do you think of his behavior?
How does the friendship between Stuart and Reeko change and get better during the movie? What do they do and how do they behave when it's obvious that they haven't yet "fit in" with those around them?
What does the movie teach about enjoying nature and living in the moment instead of playing video games and staring at screens all day?
- In theaters: February 21, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: February 21, 2006
- Cast: Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Michael J. Fox
- Director: Audu Paden
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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