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.
- Gary Winick
- Susannah Grant, Karey Kirkpatrick
- 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
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: