If you've read my review for Doctor Dolitle 2 you saw how I got trapped at home due to my free tickets to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines fell through and I ended up staying at home and watching talking animal movies. I did end up seeing T3 after all, and it was a frightening snapshot of a future during which thinking, feeling creatures are enslaved by their cruel overlords, like something out of George Orwell! Surprisingly Stuart Little 2 is at least in some ways the same kind of movie... elitist and Marxist, like a kids version of Animal Farm!
True, Orwell had nothing to do with this film, and it was E.B. White's original story that this and the first film in this series was based on. E.B. White was very popular when I was a kiddo, and his work is still well respected by kids and librarians alike. As important as source material is to me, I don't remember the cast system being paramount in the works of E.B. White, but the movie version shows this well.
In the first movie, young orphan Stuart is adopted by a human family who either speaks Maus, or Stuart speaks English. It's a touching story of releasing prejudices and loving your fellows regardless of race, color, creed, species, ability or disability! The fact that Stuart (and some other vermin) can communicate with humans and animals isn't explored as it was in Doctor Dolitle 2, but instead is taken on faith. In Stuart Little 2 Stuart (again played by a sprightly Michael J. Fox) is no longer unique in his ability to speak to the humans, nor is the mouse kingdom in general. Without rhyme or reason it appears that many animals (like mice, birds and Hugh Laurie) can communicate both with each other and with humans, but many (like cats, dogs and presumably Stallone... who didn't make the cut) can't break this communication barrier and are relegated to the role of "pet" or that of "dinner." Neither the dichotomy, nor the invisible separation line is discussed in this tale, but it nagged at me throughout like the opening sequence in Welles' Touch of Evil!
It's a shame too, because Stuart Little 2 is in all other ways a cute, enjoyable little film with nice characters you can get behind and more that a little adventure for the kid in all of us. Again, Hugh Laurie and the still hot Geena Davis are busy with both Stuart and his bigger (much bigger) brother George (that irascible scamp Jonathan Lipnicki from Jerry Maguire). Let's not forget the Nathan Lane-voiced feline called Snowbell that no one but Stuart can communicate with! That makes me mad, too because when I talk about the giant talking rabbit that only I can see and hear I get hate mail calling me a sociopath, but for Stuart it's cute! A series of ridiculous moments surround the opening of this movie, not the least of which features Stuart and George involved in a soccer game.
The main plot surrounds a new marketing tie in, this time in the form of a tiny Canary named Margalo, voiced by Melanie Griffith (who can also communicate with humans somehow)! Stuart and Margalo become fast friends and have lots of hamster-cute adventures in their own personal microcosm. Meanwhile Margalo's former employer, the Fagan-like Falcon who just had to be voiced by James Woods wants to steal all of the shiny things from the Littles' house! And of course Steve Zahn is back as the voice of Monty! Two Steve Zahn animalizations in one night... is this Christmas?
Naturally there are tons of cute action scenes, some of which include Stuart's learning to fly and actually becoming an aviation expert, and there are some chilling moments involving the heroes (including Snowbell this time) doing battle with the evil Falcon. It's all in good fun though and it's great for the kids. The leaps and bounds in animation that made Stuart look so real in the first film aren't as well represented here. Sure, they don't look like hand-drawing, but you can tell when an animal is animated versus real, and Falcon and Margolo positively look like cartoons. Still it's hard not to laugh with this movie and to root for the good guys (and they are good).
The disturbing aspect of this is the multi-tiered cast system under which these animals must exist and work without any real logical order to things. For example, Stuart can have a pet cat, and the pet cat is not allowed to communicate with the rest of the cast. Why? Even a bird can become a member of the family, but Monty the cat is relegated to searching through dumpsters. Who makes these rules? Is there a Descartian evil genius that controls the mythos of Stuart Little deciding who is and who is not to be humanized in spite of a clear equality of intellect? I am appalled! I want to know why this is the case? Perhaps the world of Stuart Little is actually cat-hell! Did you think of that? It might be cat-hell! I mean, Mice and Birds are equal to humans and cats are pets or meat or derelicts... this is so unfair... where are the dogs? Where is Stallone? I'll no more on't... it hath made me mad! So elitist!
Three Stars for Stuart Little 2! It really is a very cute little movie that is funny without resorting to potty humor. You might like it if you appreciate good kids' movies that are fun to watch, or are enamored by animation! You might not like it if you have a low threshold for sugar, or are a socialist with a cat. Two movies in one night that feature loquacious animals has done something to me psychologically! I keep talking to my daughter's Hamster, Shadow, about various possibilities for growth and maybe even making some bird friends and she just keeps trying to escape under the couch... I wonder when she's coming back... I keep calling but she doesn't answer! Poo! Alex will be so angry!