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Directed by Rob Minkoff (1999, Columbia Tristar)
Starring Hugh Laurie, Geena Davis, Michael J. Fox, and Nathan Lane

An orphan mouse finds a new home, but the cat conspires to get rid of him



3 stars

September 24th, 2000 on Video  

That was cute, very cute.  Stuart was very adorable.  The story was nice and fun, too.  I only wish they could have done without the danger angle near the end. 

The Littles are a family that are on the very edge of sanity.  They could get annoying if we were to watch them for too long.  Fortunately, they are balanced by Stuart and their son (played by the boy from Jerry Maguire).  The cat was also a lot of fun, right up until near the end. 

Stuart fits in right away, except that his new "brother" won't accept him.  That is, until the cat chases Stuart into his playroom, where Stuart does a great impression of a person tied to the railroad tracks in the path of an oncoming train.  At that point, we are not sure if Stuart was actually tied there and is being preyed upon!  But the ropes end up being Stuart's tail.  He's obviously done this trick in the orphanage before. 

They get along fine after that, and Stuart actually gets to win a remote control boat race, because he broke the controller, so he piloted it himself.  I don't know how he controlled the speed, but that's the kind of question you are not supposed to ask!

But then, there's the cat to contend with.  It's not right for a mouse to have a cat as a pet, so Snowbell hires a street cat to take care of Stuart.  The initial scenes with the cat are great, and are so cat-like.  But once Stuart's real mouse parents show up, we know that it's the street cat who set him up.  They take him away, but then the orphanage director shows up, and tells the Littles that Stuart's parents died years ago in a cream of mushroom soup disaster in the grocery store!  If it wasn't so tragic, it would have been hilarious -okay, it actually was hilarious!

And so the search begins.  But Stuart's "parents" tell him to run away, once the street cat decides he's too much of a liability.  So he takes his race-car (which was given to him by his new brother) and races across Central Park to get home. 

That's where he encounters the cats.  He outdrives them, and manages to escape, for the time being, but arrives home to an empty house.  The Littles have gone searching for him, but Snowbell tells him that they've gone out celebrating his departure.  He trudges back into Central Park, and is once again attacked by the cats.  But Snowbell has a change of heart, and ends up saving him.  But not before one of the best lines in the movie:  As Stuart is hanging from a branch, one cat says "hey, mouse on a stick.  I love mouse on a stick!"  So does my cat!

Snowbell breaks the branch that the cats are standing on, and they all fall into the water.  Snowbell brings Stuart back to the Little home, and everybody is happy. 

The story was perfect for family.  As funny as the cat-attack scenes were, I thought it would have been better if Stuart was simply loved, and spent the time earning the trust of his new brother, and perhaps even the cat.  But that's a minor point, because, as I said, they were funny. 

I liked the strange world that this movie inhabited, where people never even question the existence of a mouse that can talk.  They find it a little strange that he's been adopted by humans, but never his abilities, whether they are children, adults, or cats.  It's great.

The dialog was sharp, and much of it was funny.  Stuart was a marvel, and Fox did a great job of giving him feeling.  Nathan Lane was also very cat-like.  Quite enjoyable, and recommended.


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