Charlotte’s Web – Movie Review

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“A ham of a performance.”

_ Charlotte’s Web _
Title: Charlotte’s Web

“How could this have happened? A miracle, in a time when we don’t see many miraculous things!” Charlotte’s Web, though a delightful family film, is no miracle. But then what movie has ever been as captivating as the book? Based on the classic of the same name by E.B. White and featuring live actors (Dakota Fanning, Siobhan Fallon) along with talking animals this children’s story comes to cinematic life. And thanks to a cute, pink pig if you haven’t sworn off pork by now this should seal the deal.

That is the hook of this film and one of two saving elements. Wilbur. The runt of the litter. If he lives at all it will be to become a side item at IHOP. Immediately you start pulling for him with that cute nose and little eyes and curly tale. You are convinced that hell has an express lane for fans of sausage and ham. And ham it up he does. Wilbur steals the hearts of young and old alike. The second and most wonderful part of this film is Charlotte herself. The spider who ultimately saves Wilbur’s life. But the magic is not in what you see in the spider but rather what you hear. Voiced by Julia Roberts, Charlotte has a soothing almost hypnotic way about her that is beyond a character voiceover. It is truly magical.

Where the movie falls short is in the writing and timing of all the other barnyard animals. They try to be humorous and witty but all fall extremely short. There is no chemistry or any sort of rhythm to the characters. In past features such as Babe or Racing Stripes the animals had some life in their voices. Other than Templeton the Rat (Steve Buscemi) they all miss the mark. A shock when you consider the recognizable voices. (John Cleese, Kathy Bates, Thomas Haden Church, Robert Redford) Lines that are meant to be humorous come across as just lame. Almost like they had to fill in the gaps around Wilbur and Charlotte and didn’t take the time to develop those pieces. And though the theme of friendship is told wonderfully through the main characters they tried to tell a parallel story among the rest of the barn cast but it just didn’t fly. These facts keep a delightful movie from becoming a truly terrific, classic-destined film.
Charlotte’s Web is rated G and totally suitable for the entire family.
Everyone will cheer for Wilbur and the toughest of movie goers will shed a tear or two for his devoted heroine. This film, though not timeless like the book is worth seeing at least once. Will this movie do to pork sales what Bambi did to hunting licenses? Not sure, but if you can even think about eating an animal after watching this flick your a pretty grizzled individual. Wilbur totally strengthened my vegetarian thought processes. I give it 3 out of 5 spins. The pig is as cute as they come. With a look at Charlotte’s Web, I’m Matt Mungle.

The Mungle (matt@spin180.net)(12/12/06)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. For additional reviews and interview clips visit the website www.mungleshow.com

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