FRIDAY REVIEW

Stuart Little 2

"Stuart Little 2" ... charming, but no match for the first edition.  

INTEGRATING DIGITAL imagery with live action to create flawless photo-realistic effects, thus making the mouse, cat and bird appear absolutely true-to-life, is an enjoyable aspect of "Stuart Little 2". There could have been a few more.

Yet "Stuart Little 2", presented by Columbia Pictures, does not have the same impact that its predecessor had.

Sequels make comparisons inevitable, and somehow this time round the slightly grown up Littles do not charm you as much as they did a couple of years ago.

Probably the fault lies in the story itself. Falcon, the villainous bird, plants the canary Margalo in the house of the Littles. Her job is to steal Mrs. Little's ring (!) and that's about it. So when an entire story hinges on such a flimsy line, it is, to say the least, disappointing. The menacing Falcon's threatening looks is only much noise for little action. The story is by Douglas Wick and Bruce Joel Rubin. And any day Manoj N. Shyamalan's screenplay for the earlier "Stuart Little" was tauter.

All the characters of the first version are seen in "2" too — with a few additions. Apart from Mrs and Mr. Little (Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie) their son George (Jonathan Lipnicki) and Stuart (the mouse), of course now whole-heartedly accepted as his brother by George, there is Martha Little, the new daughter of the Littles. Snowbell, the family cat, is also a true friend of Stuart - his animus that led to some hilarious and witty repartees in the earlier version is missing here. But still his punch lines are aplenty. When he suggests to Stuart that he should not go in search of the bird Margalo — "Buy a parakeet and forget her" — and when he utters profound statements like, "If more people gave up there'll be fewer wars," Snowbell has the viewers in splits.

In "2" Stuart feels slightly stifled as his mom is mothering him always — she is over protective and is worried he could get hurt. Stuart drives to school in his mini car, operates a toy plane and feels he is big to be left on his own. All the same, he yearns for a friend who is some one like him.

So when the bird Margalo lands in his car, it is a godsend for him. Caught between the devious plans of Falcon and the love and care of Stuart, Margalo is finally forced to obey orders and soon flies away. Stuart goes in search of her, with Snowbell for help. And thus begins a roller coaster ride of adventure.

Melanie Griffith has lent her voice for Margalo and Michael J. Fox for our hero, the ever well-dressed Stuart. But it is Nathan Lane, the voice of Snowbell, whom you will remember for a long time for his rebuttals and witty one- liners.

Music composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri adds verve to the narrative.

Despite the pluses, when it comes to appeal, the sequel falls short. All the same it's a clean treat for kids this Deepavali, when "Stuart Little 2" will speak Tamil too.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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