Stuart Little 2 (2002)

Genres - Children's/Family, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Fantasy Adventure  |   Release Date - Jul 19, 2002 (USA)  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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The big-screen incarnation of E.B. White's plucky rodent hero turns saccharine and grating in this colorful if forgettable sequel to 1999's surprise hit. Though Stuart Little was by no means a reverent adaptation of White's child classic, it at least retained a wealth of quirky, colorful supporting characters, and was successful in creating not one but two vivid fantasy worlds: an idealized, '40s-comic-book version of Manhattan, and a rich gutter-dwelling subculture of house pets and pests. The two worlds still exist in Stuart Little 2, but where the first film took great pains to integrate its CGI-ed creatures and caricatured humans, this installment keeps both halves -- or rather, the three-fourths animation and one-fourth live action portions -- distinctly separate. Though the voice casting of Michael J. Fox was an inspired choice for the first film, his dialogue here (written by Ghost scribe Bruce Joel Rubin) tends toward the precious, whiny, and aphoristic. Matched to Fox's high-pitched inflections, it's almost insufferable. Worse, his rogue gallery of animal pals seems to have been whittled down -- even Nathan Lane's riotously snooty Snowbell seems to have been muted somewhat -- and a treacly romance featuring a meek Melanie Griffith doesn't help matters.