Charlotte's Web (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/02/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Boasting impressive effects work and a superb cast, this is a treat for kids, but adults may find it a little slow in places.

What's it all about?
This live action and digitally animated drama is the second version of E.B White's children's classic, following a traditionally animated version in the 1970s. Dominic Scott Kay voices Wilbur, the runt of a litter of piglets, who's rescued by kind-hearted Fern Arable (Dakota Fanning) and sent to live in a neighbouring barn, where he befriends a kindly spider named Charlotte (Julia Roberts).

Wilbur's naive optimism soon endears him to the other animals including a jittery horse (a bizarrely cast Robert Redford), a know-it-all sheep (John Cleese), a chattering goose (Oprah Winfrey) a farting cow (Kathy Bates) and a sardonic rat (Steve Buscemi as Templeton). However, when the other animals discover that Wilbur may be headed for the Christmas dinner table, it's up to Charlotte to save the day.

The Good
Dakota Fanning (cute moppets a speciality) can do this sort of thing in her sleep although her character is slightly sidelined in the middle section of the film. However, the voice cast are uniformly excellent, with Buscemi probably the stand-out (his scenes deliver some much-needed laughs). There's a reason that Charlotte's Web has stood the test of the time and that reason has nothing to do with farting cows. The book's appeal rests in its theme of friendship and the fact that the story introduces its young audience to difficult themes, something the film captures nicely without resorting to syrupy sentimentality.

The Bad
That's not to say the film is without flaws - for one thing, Charlotte is badly animated, with six small top eyes and a badly drawn smiley face underneath. In addition, the film drags considerably in the middle section and lacks the charm of its obvious cousin, Babe.

Worth seeing?
Never less than watchable, thanks to its superb cast, but kids will enjoy it more than adults will.

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Charlotte's Web (U)
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Content updated: 17/12/2017 12:01

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