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In E.B. White's world, it's hardly surprising that human parents would adopt "outside their species." The smooth-talking mouse Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox) seems the perfect new child for parents Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie, especially with an adorable wardrobe of very small sweaters and pants. Harder is fitting in with the Little's family cat, Snowbell (voiced by Nathan Lane, who also deftly voiced Timon in director Rob Minkoff's last feature, The Lion King). The simple story deals with Stuart trying to fit in with his new life, including big brother George (Jerry Maguire's scene-stealing Jonathan Lipnicki). And of course there's an adventure when Snowbell's schemes lead Stuart into true danger, in the form of the devious plans of an alley cat named Smokey (voiced by Chazz Palminteri).
For more about Stuart Little and the Stuart Little Blu-ray release, see Stuart Little Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 16, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki, Nathan Lane, Jennifer Tilly
Director: Rob Minkoff
» See full cast & crew
Stuart Little Blu-ray Review
Little things come with lots of extras.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 16, 2011
Fairy tales are real.
The mega-dollar special effects extravaganza Stuart Little is sure to excite the kids and touch the hearts of adults with its ever-relevant tale of the transcending powers of love and acceptance. Made on a big budget and riding the cutting edge of moviemaking technology, the picture is enjoyable and fit for the whole family while serving as an all-around good example of meshing live action with modern computer effects. The plot is certainly a bit stilted and the end result isn't a revelation within the medium of cinema, nor may this even remotely be considered to be an original picture, but Stuart Little's got a heart as big as its budget and a soul as pure as the title character's mousy white fur. Indeed, Stuart Little is wholesome and innocent cinema at its most basic. It means well and all of those good vibes more or less wipe out any disappointment that may begin to simmer as the generalities pile up and the predictable story runs its course. As is so often the case, good intentions and a big heart prove once again to be enough to carry a movie to success.
The Little family -- mother Eleanor (Geena Davis), father Frederick (Hugh Laurie), and son George (Jonathan Lipnicki) -- have decided to adopt a child and expand the Little clan by one. George wants a younger brother, but what he gets is Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox), an inches-tall talking mouse who's been living at the local orphanage for far too long. Stuart is immediately a big hit with the family, save for George and the family cat, Snowbell (voiced by Nathan Lane). George is upset that Stuart's not human, and Snowbell, well, suffice it to say it's awkward enough that Stuart is now the center of attention, not to mention that anywhere else the new addition would be dinner, not a family member. As George slowly comes around to accepting Stuart as a brother, Snowbell plots with other local felines to rid his life of Stuart forever.
Most obvious is that Stuart Little is a plainly generic Family movie, right down to its stringy, upbeat, and light heard-it-in-one-Family-movie-heard-it-a-million-times musical score. Innocence abounds as characters maneuver through various misadventures and emotions, learn from their mistakes, and enter the fast track to happily ever after. It's the bumps in the roads and the lessons learned that form the heart and soul of Stuart Little. First there's the question of acceptance; neither the family cat nor George see Stuart as a viable member of the family because of the way he looks. As he proves his worth as more than a mouse and someone capable of loving and being loved, he's accepted into the fold after a series of misadventures that give the movie a sprinkling of kinetic energy that nicely balances the underlying emotional content. Stuart Little tugs on the heartstrings -- blatantly so, even -- but it's nevertheless effective in the long run even as the movie proves terribly manipulative and almost painfully linear. That doesn't make it a bad movie. It's unoriginal, yes, but there's an underlying honesty and ease with which it goes about its business that lessens the impact of just how blatantly the film moves its audience to cheer on the inevitable fairy tale ending, which is even a running theme throughout the movie.
Beyond the force-fed emotions lies what is one of the more mesmerizing all-digital creations yet in this new wave of computer-enhanced cinema. Sony's massively-budget Stuart character is a thing of technological beauty; even with all of the effects that have dazzled since, little Stuart remains a hallmark special effects creation for detail, movement, and integration into a live-action picture. Viewers will marvel at the level of visible detail evident on each and every close-up shot throughout the movie, particularly the free-flowing and environment-influenced fur that's never clumpy and always natural in appearance. Maybe better still, there's no sense that the character has been artificially inserted into the film after the fact. The actors do a fine job of interacting with the digital character, and Michael J. Fox brings a much-needed final vocal touch and balance to Stuart. The actor manages to endow Stuart with a sweet and innocent yet awed and appreciative feel, in essence encapsulating all the movie stands for in terms of heart, adventure, and honesty. The human cast -- particularly the adults -- plays things with more than hint of excessiveness and exaggeration, but for a kid's movie the slight over-the-top feel seems to work in the picture's favor.
Stuart Little Blu-ray, Video Quality
Stuart Little leaps onto Blu-ray with a steady 1080p transfer that's colorful and strongly detailed throughout. Details remain impressive in every scene -- whether real-world skin, clothing, wood, structural, and random textures or the intricate digital creations that make up Stewart's body, fur, and clothes -- as Sony's 1080p image often dazzles with how well it handles every little in-frame element. Of note in the real world is how nicely detailed and real the small model ships look as they race through the waters of Central Park midway through the film. Clarity is strong throughout, softness is never a problem, and even distant objects remain sharp and visible for the duration. However, while colors are most certainly vibrant, there's no doubt the image pushes towards a decidedly warm shade. Several hotter colors -- such as red -- tend to appear excessively boosted and exaggerated, while whites blow out from time to time. On the flip side, blacks can be a touch murky but not overly so, and flesh tones carry over that orange shading. Banding and edge enhancement are non-factors, but eagle-eyed viewers will catch a few chunky backgrounds. A fine layer of grain accentuates all the transfer's positives, and audiences should be very pleased with how good the movie looks on Blu-ray.
Stuart Little Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Stuart Little doesn't feature a particularly memorable soundtrack, but that doesn't mean that Sony's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless presentation is in anyway deficient. On the contrary, the track handles the score-heavy elements with ease, playing the film's airy and smooth family-friendly-movie music with nary a hiccup. Crisp highs, a sound midrange, and heavy lows carry the day. The music spaces out with ease and nicely envelops the listener with each and every note of Alan Silvestri's music. The surrounds carry a hint of atmospherics and a few action effects, but are not particularly critical to the overall presentation outside of the music. There are a few memorable directional effects, such as when a train clearly and cleanly moves from one side of the soundstage to another, but such bustling elements and moving sounds are certainly the exception to the rule. Outside of music, dialogue is the only real critical factor, and Sony's lossless track delivers every syllable with a steady and natural cadence out of the center channel. There's not much to this track, but this is nevertheless a fine audio presentation of what is a fairly limited movie soundtrack.
Stuart Little Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Stuart Little arrives on Blu-ray with a mammoth assortment of extras, most of which concentrate on the film's digital effects.
Stuart Little Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Stuart Little banks on big special effects and broad, sweeping emotions to succeed. It's not the best movie in either category, but it's a heartwarming hard-worker that should please younger audiences and satisfy adults, despite its generalities and transparent plot. The acting is a little forced and unnaturally friendly but the humans effortlessly interact with the special effects. This is a harmless little motion picture that accomplishes all its sets out to achieve, which is primarily to showcase groundbreaking special effects and tug at the old heartstrings. Sony's Blu-ray release of Stuart Little yields strong technical qualities and an overload of extras. Recommended.
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