By Owen Gleiberman
July 17, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Stuart Little 2: Sony Picture Imageworks
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It’s a sign of the times that ”Stuart Little,” one of the rare sublime novels for children, was turned into an air-popped, digitally animated talking-critter jamboree that wiped away the book’s melancholy beauty. The surprise of Stuart Little 2 is that, in its slapstick-lite way, it comes closer than the first movie did to evoking the book’s wistful vision of loyalty and friendship.

Stuart, now comically well-integrated into the Little family (it’s a wry joke that Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie casually refer to him as their ”son”), finds a comrade in Margalo, a troubled parakeet who drops out of the sky and into his miniature sedan. Michael J. Fox and Melanie Griffith voice these two with a vulnerable urgency, and the animation is so vibrant that you can practically reach out and touch the fur and feathers. Very much a kiddie ride, ”Stuart Little 2” is lively without being hyperactive — it’s a bouncy mouse caper with a wee bit of soul.

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