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Review: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web tempts us to look for allegory in Charlotte’s politicking for the other white meat.

2.5
Charlotte’s Web
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Last year, Julia Roberts said she was going to quit Hollywood—a threat to no one except for the Steel Magnolias Fan Club—before her ego was squashed on Broadway. Now filming a Mike Nichols drama (God help us), the actress spent 2006 catatonically voicing an ant in The Ant Bully, a film no one saw, and a spider in Charlotte’s Web, a film that every child who poops their pants can stand to benefit from. Between this live-action adaptation of E.B. White’s children’s book and George Miller’s Happy Feet, it’s good to be a kid during this holiday season of progressive values. Would that adult fare like Dreamgirls and The Good Shepherd were as forward-thinking as Gary Winick’s touching little film about the affluence of goodwill that spreads in a cozy barnyard when a spider befriends a naïve little pig who doesn’t know he’s going to be turned into bacon come Christmastime. Because of the film’s G rating, parents won’t have to explain what horse-hung means to their children, but we still must suffer through lame animal-themed maxims and even lamer fart jokes—all concessions to the Shrek demographic. And though there’s scarce charm to Templeton (Steve Buscemi, typecast again) and his CGI exploits, or earned sentiment to the suggestion that Charlotte and the delicious Wilbur’s friendship warms the human population (as if the people from the story’s farming community were raping and pillaging each other before the pig and spider met), the film’s storybook charm remains irrepressible. Best when hanging out with the animals inside the barn, Charlotte’s Web tempts us to look for allegory in Charlotte’s politicking for the other white meat. Her drive is a testament to friendship and the rewards of personal sacrifice.

Cast: Julia Roberts, Dakota Fanning, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Cedric the Entertainer, Kathy Bates, Reba McEntire, Robert Redford, Thomas Haden Chruch, André Benjamin, Dominic Scott Kay, Sam Shepard, Abraham Benrubi Director: Gary Winick Screenwriter: Susannah Grant, Karey Kirkpatrick Distributor: Paramount Pictures Running Time: 97 min Rating: G Year: 2006 Buy: Video, Soundtrack, Book

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