In an era where sequels to kids film often rank below most Saturday Morning Cartoons, it's refreshing to see a movie that not only matches the quality of the first movie, but it some ways even exceeds it. Stuart Little 2 is one of those rare sequels that shows more thought, more creativity, and more ingenuity that the first one, and it's a welcome surprise in a summer of fairly poor kids films.
The success of Stuart Little 2 is built on the extremely solid foundation of the voice acting of the animated character. Michael J Fox is simply delightful as the voice of Stuart Little, he captures Stuart's curiosity, his sense of adventure, but most importantly his heart. Michael J Fox hasn't done a lot of work since he announced publicly that he suffers from Parkinson's disease, which is a real shame. Fox has always been an incredibly likeable actor, and he brings this great likeability to the role of Stuart. It's a real pleasure to be able to enjoy his performances again.
Melanie Griffith is also extremely strong in her role of Margalo (the love interest), and it's probably her best acting work since Crazy in Alabama (3 years ago). Griffith captures the complexity of Margalo and gives a performance not often seen in many kids film.
Nathan Lane, who reprises his role as Snowball the cat, is clearly having fun. There are many moments where it feels like Director Rob Minkoff lets Lane lose to do what he does best, and the result is very funny.
Rounding out the solid voice acting is James Woods as Falcon. Woods has seemed to have found quite a career in voicing animated villains, and he does a very good job of creating a character that is dark and menacing, without being terrifying.
In addition to the strong voice acting, the digital animation in Stuart Little 2 is nothing short of amazing, especially for Stuart Little. Watching the film, I got a real sense that Director Rob Minkoff (who also directed the first Stuart Little) knew just how good Stuart looked, and the film has more close ups of the digitally animated characters than I've seen. The attention to detail on the animated characters was also apparent; everything down to the outfits Stuart wears to school, or the rain slicker he wears in a key scene are perfect. The digital animation works seamlessly with the live action, and its easy to forget that the little mouse isn't just another character on the set.
What makes Stuart Little 2 such a great film is the fact that I, as an adult can take my 3 ½ year old daughter to see this movie and we can both thoroughly enjoy the characters, the story and some pretty spectacular action. The creative team behind Stuart Little 2 doesn't dumb anything down or short change the audience it gives kids and parents credit for being able to follow an intelligent well flushed out story with good characters and great acting. The result is an extremely enjoyable film that plays on many different levels.
I'm glad that Columbia Tri-Star gave Stuart Little 2 the same level of treatment that they do their other big releases. The results of the time, attention and budget show. When you see a mouse and a bird flying a plane across central park, and it's not some bad matte painting or miniature but REALLY central park you can begin to realize the real potential for kids films.
Stuart Little 2 is an extremely well crafted movie, it's well written, well acted, and well produced. While it's aimed at kids, there's more than enough to keep parents thoroughly entertained. The computer animation is nothing short of amazing, and the action really is exciting. If you're looking for a movie to take your kids to this summer Stuart Little 2 should definitely be on your list!