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Stuart Little: Special Edition

Stuart Little, a surprise 1999 box-office smash, is an utter charmer, full of surprising wit and heartwarming sentiment right from the first scene. The story — based on E.B. White's popular children's book — concerns Mr. and Mrs. Little (Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie) who encounter a polite, talkative mouse named Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox) in an orphanage, and bring him home as a brother and playmate to their son George (Jonathan Lipnicki). Upon arriving at the Little homestead, Stuart is promptly eaten by the family cat, trapped inside the washing machine, and subjected to all sorts of other demeaning but very funny adventures. Indeed, the film is more a series of cinematic short stories than a continuous narrative — and onsidering that the movie's target audience is families with young children, a group with notoriously short attention spans, this was a wise creative decision. The stories are tied together by the growing friendship between George and Stuart, as George, initially apprehensive about having a mouse for a little brother, eventually succumbs to Stuart's bottomless charm and his desire to fit in. Indeed, the plucky rodent doesn't appear to realize that he's a mouse at all. (When a tough neighborhood cat confronts Stuart, he doesn't know that they're supposed to be enemies.) But the most pleasant thing about Stuart Little is not its aggressive cuteness (of which there is no shortage) but its abundance of wit. Works geared towards children are often insultingly banal, to both the parents who are forced to endure them and to the kids themselves. The actors, along with writers M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) and Greg Brooker, and director Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), contribute to the movie's overall cleverness — a feat made even more impressive by the fact that Stuart himself was inserted into the footage weeks after the other actors had gone home. Fortunately, the quality of this Columbia TriStar DVD doesn't stop with the movie itself. Along with a solid transfer (1.85:1 widescreen and 1.33:1 pan-and-scan are available on separate releases), the supplements include two audio commentary tracks (one with director Rob Minkoff, the other with the special-effects crew), a storyboard-to-scene comparison of the movie's boat race sequence, six deleted scenes (with director's commentary), two blooper/gag reels, two "making-of" featurettes, an isolated score, artists' screen tests, a number of Stuart-themed DVD-ROM games, a trailer gallery, and three music videos.
—Joe Barlow

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