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Stuart Little 2

None of the DVD sites I frequent have posted a review of this disc, so I thought I'd post a mini-review for anyone looking for some objective input on it.

The original Stuart Little was a wonderful movie and (for the time) a spectacular DVD release. In almost every way (except for improved CGI) Stuart Little 2 doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. Even so, it's still better than most family-friendly sequels. Kudos should go to Sony for not immediately dumping quality and sending the franchise into "direct-to-video" profiteering mode. (Cough, Disney, Cough.)

The talented and tall Geena Davis, likeable Hugh Laurie and barely bearable Jonathan Lipnicki all return as Stuart's family. Stuart is once again empathetically voiced by Michael J. Fox. Nathan Lane and Steve Zahn return to deliver kitty one-liners as Snowbell and Monty. New to the cast are Melanie Griffith's Margalo the bird and James Woods as Falcon. (Just "Falcon," thank you.)

The plot revolves around Stuart helping an injured bird while trying to figuratively spread his own wings. Even though the action is ratcheted up a notch, Stuart's character arc remains essentially unchanged from the first movie: he's a little mouse trying to find his way in a big world. While the original movie's screenplay was creatively penned by the unlikely M. Night Shaylaman, Bruce Joel Rubin is responsible for this uninspired sequel. Still, you really can't help but like the Little's, Stuart and Margalo -- except for the Lipnicki's flat performance as George -- they are played so well. Falcon is James Woods' in a bird body. (His performance is fine, but it's the same one he phones in for every movie these days.)

Visually, Stuart Little 2 is just as interesting as the first. Stuart Little's New York City is a fictional, idealized place taking the most pleasant aspects of culture from the 50's through today. Rich art direction, set design, and costumes are all required to make this storybook metropolis real. Of course, you can't forget the excellent CGI that goes into realizing the star of the movie. Not only is the character "acting" from the animators full of personality, the technical work required to convincingly realize Stuart (fur, clothing etc.) is so good that you barely notice it (the ultimate compliment.) Margalo is equally well done. Falcon is much more "realistic" in the way that he is modeled and animated, so it's easier to notice his imperfections.

The sound design is quite serviceable, if not memorable. The score, very Gershwin-esque at times, supports the action well and adds to the overall vibe.


The best DVD transfers have improved a lot since the original Stuart Little disc so I was hoping for an even better transfer this time around. Alas, this was not to be. The anamorphic, OAR video is fine, but it's not reference quality. The live action footage is a bit soft and grainy at times. Highlights are sometimes slightly blown-out with a very slight yellow cast. Close-ups and CG effects are crystal clear though, and there were no dust or scratch marks worthy of mention. Nor were there any compression artifacts (or edge enhancements) bad enough to distract. I didn't bother looking at the P&S version on the same disc. If you're not viewing this movie on a calibrated big screen you'll never notice its minor imperfections.


This Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is on par with the many good soundtracks that Hollywood engineers routinely produce. Nothing about it stands out, but everything is as it should be, including decent use of the surrounds and the LFE.


The menus are well designed and the animations are thankfully short. They won't win any awards, but they get the job done in fine style.


To be honest, I didn't really spend any time exploring the extras. There's not a giant wealth of them so I doubt that I've missed much. If I do go back and play with them I'll append this review.


If you liked the first movie you'll likely enjoy this one as well. It passed the "Emma Test." Which is to say my 3 year old sat through it with a minimum of fidgeting. (She'll probably watch it 800 more times in the coming months, so luckily it's bearable for adults as well.) This DVD is another solid release.
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