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Movie Review: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web
Directed by Gary Winick
Written by Susannah Grant and Karey Kirkpatrick from a film story by Earl Hamner Jr. based on the novel by E.B. White

I’ve had enough, haven’t you?  Charlotte’s Web could technically be described as yet another animated animal adventure from the overcrowded year of 2006, coming a month after what a deem to be the similarly-themed Happy Feet, in which we give personification to animals in order to save them.

E.B. White’s book is a classic, and I enjoyed reading it as a kid, and it has the story to become a classic movie.  But it’s not, and in this year especially, it comes off all too tired.  Runt pig Wilbur (Dominic Scott Kay) is saved from the axe by warm-hearted girl Fern (Dakota Fanning), and she shoulders the responsibility of taking care of it.  Eventually, though, Fern has to stop babying the pig and leave him out in the barn, where all of the other creatures can ostracize him.

But he befriends another outcast, the wise spider Charlotte A. Cavatica (Julia Roberts), who serves in the book and the movie as a sort of “that’s how life is” functionary.  The rat Templeton (Steve Buscemi) informs Wilbur that spring pigs usually end up on dinner tables, and Charlotte confirms this, but with an offer to help.  She starts spinning words into her web, much to the delight of the common folk around town, who declare it a miracle.  Unfortunately, we’re only human, and we get tired of miracles after awhile, and we need something more to captivate us.  So Wilbur always remains on the chopping block.  But Charlotte starts believing it might be the choice of words, made at the right time, that might save Wilbur.

If you’ve read the story then you know it’s not entirely a happy ending although it’s an uplifting one.  But for this movie’s sake, I could have done without the army of celebrity voices making their all-too-familiar, for-kids banter; plus the farting and burping, which as I’m sure all of you out there who read E.B. White’s novel remember how painstakingly he included those descriptions of flatulence.  Funny how a book like this doesn’t condescend to children, but when a movie is made the filmmakers feel like they have to.  Why can’t a kid movie just be a drama?  Why does every animal have to be a jokester?  I need a break from this comic relief.  Moreover, I need a break from talking, singing, and dancing animals.  I’ll be eating some bacon with a side of penguin later today.


Comment from KW
Time: December 20, 2006, 1:13 pm

I think you just helped me make a new rule for myself: if a family or kid-friendly film includes a fart joke–and I know about it ahead of time–I will forever boycott that movie.

Not because fart jokes are crass–which some certainly would believe–but because it is the lowest, least-original form of comedy there is. Just because little kids laugh, doesn’t mean it’s funny. Just because you know they’ll laugh if you put it in…doesn’t mean you should.

(By the way…the Shrek series is one of the WORST at including this “aim-low-brow” comedy….they skewer other films and genres fantastically, but they’re hooked on the fart and body humor.)

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