Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Minkoff|
|Produced by||Douglas Wick|
|Based on||Stuart Little|
by E. B. White
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Edited by||Tom Finan|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$300.1 million|
Stuart Little is a 1999 American family comedy film loosely based on the novel of the same name by E. B. White. Directed by Rob Minkoff in his live-action debut, the screenplay was written by M. Night Shyamalan and Greg Brooker, and stars Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, and Jonathan Lipnicki, alongside the voices of Michael J. Fox and Nathan Lane. The plot bears little resemblance to that of the book, as only some of the characters and a few minor plot elements are the same. The film's sequel more closely resembles the original novel.
The film was released on December 17, 1999 by Columbia Pictures. It received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects nomination, losing to The Matrix. The first film in the Stuart Little series, it was followed by a sequel, Stuart Little 2 in 2002, the short-lived television series Stuart Little in 2003, and another sequel in 2005, the direct-to-video Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild. It was Estelle Getty's final film before her retirement in 2001 and her death in 2008.
Eleanor and Frederick Little and their young son George are intending to adopt a new family member. While George is at school, his parents go to an orphanage where they meet an anthropomorphic teenage mouse named Stuart. Despite misgivings from Mrs. Keeper, they adopt Stuart and take him home. However, Stuart is greeted coldly by George, who refuses to acknowledge the mouse as his brother, and the family cat, Snowbell, who is disgusted at having a mouse for a "master". Despite Eleanor and Frederick's intentions, Stuart quickly feels like an outsider in the large Little family, especially when their relatives bring Stuart large presents and George snaps at his family, claiming that Stuart is not his brother. When Stuart admits his feelings of loneliness to his parents, they ask Mrs. Keeper to do some background research on Stuart's biological family.
After accidentally stumbling across George's playroom in the basement, Stuart finally bonds with George when they play together and plan to finish George's remote controlled racing sailboat, the Wasp, for an upcoming boat race in Central Park. At the same time, however, one of Snowbell's alley cat friends, Monty, visits unexpectedly and discovers Stuart. Determined not to have his reputation destroyed, Snowbell later meets with Smokey, Monty's leader and a Mafia don-like alley cat. Snowbell asks Smokey to remove Stuart from the household and Smokey accepts the task.
Stuart and George finish the Wasp in time for the race, but on the day of the race, the controller is smashed when a gentleman accidentally steps on it. To make it up to George, Stuart pilots the Wasp himself, but ends up in a tussle with a larger boat piloted by George's rival, Anton who has cheated by wiping out everyone else's boats. Stuart snaps the wires of Anton's boat in half causing it to malfunction and wins the race, finally winning George's respect. However, during the family celebration a short time later, the Littles are visited by a mouse couple, Reginald and Camille Stout, who claim to be Stuart's parents who gave him up to the orphanage years ago due to poverty. Reluctantly, Stuart leaves with the Stouts and George gives him his favorite toy car as a farewell gift. A few days later, however, Mrs. Keeper arrives and tells the Littles that Stuart's real parents actually died many years ago in a supermarket accident. Realizing that their son has been kidnapped, the Littles call the police, who start a search operation.
Later that night, Snowbell meets with Smokey, Monty and the other alley cats, who reveal that they had forced the Stouts to pose as Stuart's parents, in order to remove Stuart from the household. Now fearing retribution should the Littles discover Snowbell's deception, Smokey orders the Stouts to hand Stuart over to them. But the Stouts, having grown to love Stuart like their own, tell him the truth and instruct him to escape. Furious, Smokey orders a manhunt for Stuart. He and the other cats (minus Snowbell and Monty) corner him in Central Park and chase him into the sewers. Despite losing his car and almost falling down a storm drain, Stuart manages to evade Smokey's gang and returns home, unfortunately while the Littles are putting up posters of him all over the city, the only one present is Snowbell, who lies and tells Stuart that the Littles have been enjoying themselves greatly since his departure, and uses his removed face from the family photograph as proof (which was actually used for the posters). Heartbroken, Stuart leaves the house again.
When the Littles return home with no success of finding Stuart, Snowbell begins to realize his selfishness and starts to feel incredibly guilty for everything he's done. Later, Smokey, Monty and the other alley cats pinpoint Stuart's location back to Central Park and bring Snowbell along for the hunt. Snowbell finds Stuart in an empty bird's nest and saves him from the cats, confessing that the Littles truly do love him. Smokey, Monty and the other cats eventually catch up and corner Stuart on a branch. Before the cats can catch him, Snowbell breaks the branch they are standing on, sending them (Monty included) falling into the river below. Smokey then tries to ambush Snowbell from behind, but Stuart smacks him in the face with another branch, knocking him out of the tree and into the river as well. Smokey then leaves angrily and is then chased away by stray dogs. Stuart and Snowbell later return home and happily reunite with the Little family.
One of the paintings used as a prop for the Littles' home was the 1920s painting Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Hungarian avant garde painter Róbert Berény, which had long been considered a lost painting. A set designer for the film had purchased the painting at an antiques store in Pasadena, California for $500 for use in the film, unaware of its provenance. In 2009, art historian Gergely Barki, while watching Stuart Little on television with his daughter, noticed the painting, and after contacting the studios was able to track down its whereabouts. In 2014, its owner sold the painting at an auction for EUR229,500.
Stuart Little was released theatrically on December 17, 1999. On its opening weekend, Stuart Little grossed $15 million, placing it at #1. It dropped to #2 over its second weekend, but went back to #1 on its third weekend with $16 million. According to Box Office Mojo, its final gross in the United States and Canada was $140 million and it grossed $160.1 million at the international box office, for an estimated total of $300 million worldwide.
Stuart Little received generally positive reviews from movie critics. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 67% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 96 responses with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's consensus reads: "Stuart Little is charming with kids and adults for its humor and visual effects." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 61 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.
Jesus Freak Hideout said that "from start to finish, Stuart Little is a near flawless family film" while Stephen Holden of The New York Times had said "the only element that doesn't completely harmonize with the rest of the film is the visually unremarkable digital figure of Stuart."
Stuart Little was released to VHS and DVD on April 18, 2000 and in the UK on November 27, 2000. It was later re-released on a Deluxe Edition on May 21, 2002, and on Blu-ray on June 28, 2011.
The soundtrack album Stuart Little (Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture) was released by Motown and Universal Records on November 30, 1999, on audio CD and audio cassette. Tracks in bold do not appear in the film.