Director – Rob Minkoff, Screenplay – Bruce Joel Rubin, Story – Bruce Joel Rubin & Douglas Wick, Producers – Douglas Wick & Douglas Fisher, Photography – Steven B. Poster, Music – Alan Silvestri, Visual Effects Supervisor – Jerome Chen, Animation Supervisor – Eric Armstrong, Visual Effects/Animation – Sony Pictures Imageworks, Additional Visual Effects – Rhythm and Hues (Supervisor – Bill Westenhofer), Miniature Car/Plane – Vanishing Point Entertainment, Special Effects Supervisor – Robert L. Knott, Creature Effects – Jim Henson Creature Workshop, Production Design – Bill Brzeski. Production Company – Columbia/Franklin-Waterman Productions
Geena Davis (Eleanor Little), Jonathan Lipnicki (George Little), Hugh Laurie (Frederick Little), Marc John Jeffries (Will)
Michael J. Fox (Stuart Little), Melanie Griffith (Margalo), Nathan Lane (Snowbell), James Woods (Falcon), Steve Zahn (Monty)
The mouse boy Stuart Little feels overprotected by his adopted human mother. Stuart feels lonely when his adopted brother George goes off to play with his human friends, leaving Stuart on his own. While Stuart is driving in the street in his toy car, Margalo, a bird being pursued by a falcon, suddenly falls into the passenger seat with a broken wing. Stuart grants her refuge at the Littles and an affection grows between the two. Unknown to him, Margalo and the falcon are running a confidence scam where she inveigles her way into households and then steals the valuables. Torn between Stuart’s affection for her and the falcon’s threats, Margalo leaves, taking Mrs Little’s ring. However, Stuart thinks she has been abducted. With the aid of Snowbell the cat, he sets forth on an epic-size journey into the big world to rescue her.
Stuart Little (1999) was one of the surprise sleeper hits of 1999. It was made outside the studio system and went on to become a surprisingly well-received and well-liked box-office hit. As Hollywood thinking goes, if audiences will shell out for it once there is a good chance they will as second, a third, fourth and even further times. All of the principal talents behind the original – Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki, the voice talents of Michael J. Fox, Nathan Lane and Steve Zahn, as well as director Rob Minkoff – reunite here for Stuart Little 2. The only noticeably missing name is that of screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan, who just prior to the release of Stuart Little wrote and directed a small film called The Sixth Sense (1999) and went onto considerable prominence as a result. To replace Shyamalan, the producers have brought in another high-profile writer-turned-director – Bruce Joel Rubin, best known for his Oscar-nominated work on Ghost (1990) a few years earlier.
Not too surprisingly, Stuart Little 2 does all the same things as its predecessor. It expands things a little but never mixes with the basics and works in all the same perfectly appealing ways. The detail of the CGI work has been upped to an even greater level – you can see every fur on Stuart’s head and each of Margalo’s feathers rippling in the breeze, even the detail of the reflections in the animals’ eyes. Stuart’s story has been given a new arc – rather than trying to be accepted by the Littles and avoid the cats, it is now one of Stuart moving out of his comfort zone and into the big wide world, and the betrayal by and redemption of Margalo. Stuart’s journey there and the way back never requires too much trouble and where all is solved by ‘a silver lining’ – a convenient name for authorial sleight of convenience.
In some ways, the characters are even better etched this time – Snowbell is less intrusive in his smartass colloquialisms and has mellowed into a likeably sarcastic coward. Stuart even gets a relationship of sorts – it is called a friendship, although one suspects they wanted to call it a romance but decided to water it down for the moppet audiences (not to mention the somewhat bizarre miscegenation presented by the idea of a cross-species romance between a mouse and a bird, something that was mercilessly skewered by Peter Jackson in Meet the Feebles ).
It is all conducted with an appealing sweetness. As before, there is a charm to the perfectly accepted absurdism of Stuart’s existence. There is ever so much the sense that scenes – Stuart driving his car through the New York streets, flying a model plane, the opening soccer game, the climactic mid-air fight – have been set up as set-piece flourishes but they are conducted with enough effect that what ends up mattering most of all is the characters. Just as it should do.
Stuart Little 2 was followed by the animated video-released Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (2005), as well as the animated tv series Stuart Little (2003).
(Nominee for Best Special Effects at this site’s Best of 2002 Awards).