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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild
Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild
Sony Pictures // G // February 21, 2006
List Price: $24.94 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted February 9, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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Review in a nutshell: If you thought the concept of "unnecessary animated sequel" was a Disney exclusive, think again.

It's true that 2002's Stuart Little 2 did a decent job of following up the 1999 original, but the third time isn't always a charm. Though nearly all of the original characters and cast (sans Nathan Lane) are back on board for Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild, what this third adventure really suffers from is its own laziness. To make matters worse, the visual style of the original films---in truth, one of their saving graces---has taken a step backwards in quality and ambition.

Love it or hate it, there's no argument that the animation found here is quite a change. While the first two installments featured the lovable white mouse as a fully rendered CG character living in a live-action world, Stuart Little 3 makes everything look like a flat, cel-shaded video game. This new style occasionally works to the film's advantage, but it usually just distracts viewers who've become used to seeing the CGI critter blend so seamlessly into "the real world". The character likenesses are fairly accurate, but here's the problem: even the most accurate likeness can't prevent this type of animation from feeling very cold and distant in comparison to the original's style. It's not as bad as The Polar Express, for example, but it's certainly a noticeable problem.

Of course, these visual problems could be understood (if not completely forgiven) had the actual plot of Stuart Little 3 been given a bit more time and attention. Here, the Little family heads out for a camping vacation, but Snowbell ends up getting jacked by a few furry woodland creatures…and it's up to Stuart and his skunk friend Reeko (Wayne Brady) to save the day. It's not a terrible story---even by the looser standards of films aimed directly at kids---but it's all too familiar and doesn't exactly speed by, even with a slender 75-minute running time. Though young children may end up enjoying the show, it doesn't seem like one that could entertain the whole family---so unless you're looking for a virtual babysitter, Stuart Little 3 will most likely be a disappointment. It's not a terrible stand-alone effort, but it can't help but stand in the shadow of the first two.

Even so, Stuart Little 3 may still be worth a weekend look for fans of the original two. The DVD treatment by Columbia Tri-Star isn't half bad, especially since the film has been presented with a striking anamorphic widescreen transfer and a decent audio presentation. The bonus features are generally as light and fluffy as most of the film, but this is still a fairly solid package that seems to make the best of the situation. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Quality Control Department

Video & Audio Quality:

Presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, Stuart Little 3 looks excellent despite the disappointing visual style. Colors and image detail are very strong throughout, while digital problems (edge enhancement, etc.) don't seem to be an issue here.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is clean and clear overall; though it's a fairly straightforward experience, a few instances of rear surround activity perk things up. A French 2.0 mix and optional English and French subtitles have also been included with the main feature.

Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging:

The simple menus (seen above) aren't terribly exciting, but they're easy enough for the kids to use. This 75-minute film has been divided into a generous 28 chapters, while no layer change was detected during playback. The actual packaging is generally similar to the first two films: this one-disc release is housed in a standard white keepcase and no inserts have been included.

Bonus Features:

Though it's dubbed a "Special Edition", the bonus features for Stuart Little 3 aren't particularly great (or plentiful, for that matter). First up are a pair of Interactive Games, including "Help Stuart Escape!" and "Monty's Monstrous Appetite!"; both aren't especially new and groundbreaking, but the kids might enjoy 'em a few times. Up next is Stuart's Summer Journal (a re-cap of his adventures that can be read by Stuart or paged through manually) and Learn to Draw, a quick how-to session with Stuart, Snowbell and Reeko. Closing out the film-related extras is a Music Video for "Reeko's Funk" (2:12), the cringe-worthy closing track performed by Wayne Brady. Also here is a PSA for the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation and a series of Previews for several upcoming animated releases. In conclusion: if you're looking for insightful, film-related extras, look elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

I'm not sure if Stuart Little ever needed to become a franchise, but there's no doubt that this third installment is the black sheep of the family. The visual style is somewhat interesting but ultimately a distraction (especially the first time through), though anyone familiar with the characters shouldn't have too much trouble making the adjustment. Even so, Stuart Little 3 is fairly weak in the story department, often using its new environments as an excuse to tread on similar ground. This one might be worth a look for anyone who enjoyed the previous adventures, but there's not enough here to consider it a solid addition to your family's DVD library. Rent It.


Randy Miller III is an art instructor and office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.
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