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Review: Stuart Little 2

Rob Minkoff creates an unmistakably adorable, storybook tableau from his colorful use mise-en-scène and symmetrical compositions.

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Stuart Little 2
Photo: Columbia Pictures

First, let’s get Stuart Little 2’s cinematic intertexuality out of the way. Melanie Griffith and James Woods played drugged-up cons in Larry Clark’s Another Day in Paradise. In Stuart Little 2, Griffith and Woods lend their voices to a scheming canary and pimp falcon, respectively. Griffith’s mother, Tippi Hedren, appeared in Hitchcock’s The Birds but it’s Vertigo that plays on the small screen when Stuart Little (Michael J. Fox) woes the diamond-stealing Margalo (Griffith). Though Stuart has fully acclimated into New York culture, he’s yet to acknowledge the true limits of his size. The three years between Stuart Little and its sequel have more or less reconciled bitter cat/mouse relations, which means Stuart Little 2 is noticeably less rote than its predecessor. Snowbell (Nathan Lane) is still around and while his vaudeville shtick is still every bit as hit-or-miss, it’s nowhere near as shrill as the recycled catch phrases of the first film. Still, in placing all cats and humans on the backburner, the producers allow the simplicity of the film’s story to be carried on the size-affirming weight of Stuart’s heroic antics (his escape from a garbage barge is every bit as exciting as his hot-air balloon ride). And while the innuendos and performances pack more bite (as Eleanor Little, Geena Davis does a great Donna Reed impersonation), most effective is the rich detail work (jewelry as memento mori and mode of rescue, the ½ on Stuart’s soccer shirt, the Piskhkin Building as falcon nest). Most significantly, director Rob Minkoff creates an unmistakably adorable, storybook tableau from his colorful use mise-en-scène and symmetrical compositions.

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki, Nathan Lane, Melanie Griffith, Steve Zahn, James Woods Director: Rob Minkoff Screenwriter: Bruce Joel Rubin Distributor: Columbia Pictures Running Time: 84 min Rating: PG Year: 2002 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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