We gave it a B
New York City kid sends Mom and Dad off to buy him a baby brother. Mom (Geena Davis) and Dad (Hugh Laurie) adopt a mouse instead, name him Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox), and warn kid George (Jonathan Lipnicki) and cat Snowbell (voiced by Nathan Lane) to be good. In Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s town, there are laws against this kind of unnatural nuclear unit, but in “Stuart Little,” based on E.B.White’s classic children’s book, the interspecies mischief makes for a charming family movie about feeling different, being bullied, and fitting in as Stuart faces down torment by the jealous Snowbell. It also makes for an impressive display of digitalized rodent antics.
For all the nifty cavorting at Stuart’s disposal, and amid all the gingerbread charm Rob Minkoff (who codirected “The Lion King”) brings to his conception of a bustling world capital with the feel of a Cotswolds village, the star of this show is Snowbell. As he did while speaking through the mouth of an animal in “The Lion King,” Lane creates a great wiseacre character, and his feline cronies (voiced by Chazz Palminteri and Steve Zahn) provide the big cat with appropriate wise-guy banter. “Stuart Little” doesn’t have the free-associative wit of “Babe” or the looking-glass fascination of the underappreciated 1997 movie adaptation of “The Borrowers,” but a Little goes a long way.