Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (2005)


USA. 2005.


Director – Audu Paden, Screenplay – Don McEnery & Bob Shaw, Story – Douglas Wick, Additional Material – Bill Motz & Bob Roth, Producers – Lucy Fisher, Leslie Hough & Douglas Wick, Music – Alti Örvarsson, Music Supervisors – Jennifer Pyken & Madonna Wade-Reed, Animation Directors – Johnny Darrell & Morgan Ratsoy, Animation – Mainframe Entertainment, Inc (Supervisors – Conrad Helten & Robin Shea). Production Company – Red Wagon Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Michael J. Fox (Stuart Little), Wayne Brady (Rocko), Kevin Schon (Snowbell), Hugh Laurie (Frederick Little), Corey Padnos (George Little), Geena Davis (Eleanor Little), Peter MacNichol (Troopmaster Bickle), Rino Romano (Monty), Tara Strong (Brooke), Virginia Madsen (The Beast)


The Littles go on holiday up to Lake Garland, taking Stuart and Snowbell with them. Stuart is excited and looking forward to joining the Lake Scouts. Frederick decides to join up too to ensure Stuart’s safety. George has no interest in the scouts and only wants to get through all the levels on his computer game but is persuaded to join when he meets a cute scout girl Brooke. Stuart soon starts to fall behind everyone else on the courses because he is too small to keep up with the regular size kids. In the woods, Stuart befriends the skunk Rocko who gives him helpful tips on wilderness survival. What Stuart does not know is that Rocko has made a deal with The Monster – a mountain lion that is terrorizing the woods – to be spared as long as he brings it other animals as food.

Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild was the third of the Stuart Little films. The first two films, Stuart Little (1999) and Stuart Little 2 (2002), were conducted in live-action with the various talking mice, cats and birds being created via CGI animation that was blended with the live film footage. By contrast, Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild has been made wholly in animation. It does reunite many of the live-action stars from the other films – Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie – as voice artists, as well as Michael J. Fox, who provided the voice of Stuart. Notably absent is Jonathan Lipnicki who played George in the films. There had earlier been a 12 episode animated tv series Stuart Little (2003) also from Red Wagon Entertainment, but that was produced by a different animation company and with none of the personnel from this or the live-action films.

Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild is made by Mainframe Entertainment, the pioneering Canadian computer animation company that predated Pixar and was responsible for tv series such as ReBoot (1994-2001) and Beast Wars: Transformers (1996-9), as well as the various Barbie films. One had some misgivings about an animated Stuart Little as the charm and novelty of the first two films lay in seeing the tiny mouse boy contrasted up against the human environment. With no medium separating either, what we have here seems to be no more than a standard talking animal animated film.

Certainly, Mainframe have done much to preserve the look of the first two Stuart Little films. In an intriguing artistic move, they have drawn Call of the Wild in a stylized way that consists of linefills of bold colours with no shadings. There has also been an effort made to create a strong story – you could easily imagine Call of the Wild being conducted as a third live-action Stuart Little film. There is the same theme that we had in the second film of Stuart feeling overprotected by the Littles and desiring freedom of his own. The film comes with moments of tenderness and charm – you cannot help but feel for poor Stuart as he struggles to keep up on the summer camp challenges and is disadvantaged by his size. It builds up to a satisfying emotional climax.

On the minus side, the Rocko character feels like the filmmakers desperately trying to include some element that is hip, streetwise and African-American and only coming out creating a character that verges on borderline racial caricature. There are also some especially banal songs.

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