Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild Review
A straight-to-video “threequel”, and intentionally so, Stuart Little 3 is an inauspicious affair. Whereas the previous two instalments deftly blended live-action and high quality computer animation, here we’re dependent solely on the latter, albeit of a cheaper variety. Eschewing the style of Pixar’s efforts, or the likes of Robots and Antz, Stuart Little 3 instead goes for a glossy looking approach which falls somewhere between the recent adaptation of Appleseed and some low-budget television production. In other words, it looks okay, but only just. That said, we’re also not faced with a complete departure thanks to the return of Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie on vocal duties, although it is clear that this is a noticeable step down. Indeed, there’s no screenwriter of M. Night Shyamalan’s calibre (as was the case with the first instalment), whilst the quality of the supporting cast, which once included James Woods and Melanie Griffith for the first sequel, now extends solely to semi-forgotten faces: Peter MacNicol of Ally McBeal fame and Ghostbusters II; Virginia Madsen from Electric Dreams.
Plotwise, Stuart Little 3 sees the Little family heading off on vacation to a cabin in the woods and the expected life lessons. Stuart befriends a wisecracking skunk and thus his family must learn acceptance. George, the human son previously played by Jonathan Lipnicki in the live-action instalments, learns to ignore his computer games and get some “wind in his hair”. And meanwhile a cougar known as “the Beast” terrorises the woods and its inhabitants, but without any hints of a darker dimension which may have been present in a more considered effort.
For Stuart Little 3 is really nothing more than easy, competent entertainment. It ambles along agreeably enough until Stuart is called upon to save the day in time for the grand finale. There are no grand designs for the material, just pretty much as you’d expect from a straight-to-video effort. The skunk turns out to be an Eddie Murphy-alike à la Shreck and Mulan and gets to perform an awful funk number; the set-pieces are familiar and unspectacular; and there’s a mawkish romance for George in an attempt to get the girls watching. Certainly, it’s all professional enough to just about scrape by (although Davis and Laurie don’t seem all that comfortable in lending their voices, especially when their characters have been animated much younger), but ultimately Stuart Little 3 resembles nothing more than an underdone TV special.
Given that this particular Stuart Little is more obviously directed at a children’s audience than the previous instalments, the DVD does likewise. In terms of presentation the film comes across especially well. The image is spotless and the animation looks as good as it possible could. Certainly, there are no discernible flaws to speak of whilst the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is maintained and anamorphically enhanced. As for the soundtrack, here we find a DD5.1 offering in similarly fine condition. Again no problems worth mentioning leaving us with the presentation we’d expect from such a new release.
Save for a promo for a new Stuart Little computer game, all of the extras are of the interactive variety and aimed squarely at the youngsters. A couple of games are present, plus there’s a “readalong” book in which Stuart relates his summer experiences and three “learn to draw” pieces. In all case these are none-too-challenging and easily negotiable, once again just as we’d expect.
Last updated: 19/06/2018 06:15:59