The original film version of E.B. White’s classic children’s story struck gold when it appeared in 1999. Now the inevitable sequel brings back, along with the original cast and director Rob Minkoff, much of its predecessor’s charm and wit. Stuart (voiced by Michael J. Fox) has settled into life in the Little home, which occupies a prime piece of real estate in this fairy-tale version of New York, but he’s lonely for someone like him. Cue Margalo, a free-spirited bird (Melanie Griffith) who drops, with injured wing, into his model sports car (Stuart is the only kid allowed to drive to school). Stuart develops a crush, but Margalo isn’t the innocent victim she seems, and her disappearance leads Stuart and Snowbell, the pampered family cat (Nathan Lane), out beyond the sheltered world of the Littles.
The film looks great, full of bright, primary colors that complement the slightly unreal world they depict — in this New York, even the cab drivers are cheerful. State-of-the-art digital effects, along with picture-perfect settings, integrate the talking animals with the live action. Minkoff is hip enough to include a joke about the Brazilian World Cup side, and Stuart’s got just enough spunk to make it all fun for parents as well. (74 minutes)