Stewart Little

directed by rob minkoff
voiced by michael j. fox, geena davis, hugh laurie and jonathan lipnicki

I've had enough of small screening rooms. Sure, the drinks are nice and chit-chat is comforting, but if you want the pulse of the people and the feel of a crowd ready to embrace or destroy a film in a second, you've eventually got to get out and mix it up with the people. Due to my odd hours and predilection for all manner of cinema treaties without a ticket price, most of the cinemas I do my viewing in are empty caverns. If you want to see Scream 3 at 11 in the morning with the three senior citizens, I'm your man. If you want to do the normal thing and catch a flick on a Friday night as an addendum to a party or bout of heavy drinking, I'm afraid you'll find I'm catching up on the sleep I've been missing for the last 72 hours.

So what exactly is the critics room? It's a bubble folks, rarefied air and celebrity spotting with the occasional masterpiece thrown in to stop intellectual dry-rot and install a sense of misplaced purpose. Sometimes I'm so busy freaking out with the knowledge that Tabitha from FOXTEL's Graveyard Shift is sitting three seats away from me that I barely register the film in front of me. Still, I shouldn't diss the joy of bouncing bedsprings with the likes of Margaret and David. Its a good gig, wonderfully corrupt and incredibly surreal. I do this for a living? Jesus, my mum makes sandwiches for 14 dollars an hour. She works. I jerk-off for free and then call up my editor asking for more preview screenings.

OK, I know that if you've ever read anything I've ever written before, this must sound pretty familiar. It's just that sometimes I feel incredibly guilty about this gravy train. I'm also worried about falling into a trap, becoming another apathetic robot reciting standard opinions with such relentless conformity that I end up symbolising a hatred of cinema far more than a snobby tosser who writes off populist cinema like Stuart Little (I'm getting to the review soon) as capitalist swill with sentiment blah blah blah but gosh I love all those foreign films because I don't have to deal with the issues and its all about photography and French women do take off their clothes a lot these days. The ultimate sin, whether you pay at the door or not, is to grow cold, assume a stance and block any feeling any artwork can offer you. Which is to say, much to my surprise, that I loved Stuart Little, and I loved seeing it in a room full of kids.

I love the way kids react to a movie. If a chase scene really gets their attention, they start to jump up and down on the seat. What a perfect reaction! If they get bored they'll just play on the small carpeted hill in front of the screen. Either way its entertaining for the adults in the room. They're also short as you may have noticed, so there's never any last minute worries about a tall bastard deciding to plant his lanky ass down in front of you. Best of all, when the curtain opens at a kids movie, everyone cheers! I nearly cried when this happened, because it so perfectly expresses the thrill that comes with the start of a film. After wading through a deluge of ads and movie previews, most adults can only express relief when the film finally arrives. Here the beginning of the movie is cause for genuine vocal reaction. I may be romanticising the emotionally simplicity of children (and ignoring things like poorly-timed toilet breaks and, it you're unlucky, a lot of crying) but I can't deny how much fun it was to share the film with such an audience on a bright Sunday morning. We were in this together and we loved every minute of it.

Oh yes, the film. I almost forgot about giving you the plot and describing my gee-whiz wonder at what animators can do these days. Well forget it, I'm in no mood for an all down the line review. Oh alright, Stuart was a cute little bastard, and the film was beautifully crafted and wonderfully sustained. Its 85 minutes of superior entertainment. The film also lead me to realise that kids have been getting some of the best films lately, and now I'm speaking from a strictly young adult level. In the past year I've had more fun at films such as A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 and now Stuart Little than at any dimestore blockbuster you care to name. This is what Hollywood is supposed to do every time out; make detailed and loving films with all the money and talent at their disposal. As it is all the care seems to be saved for the kids flicks, with the exception of those unending stream of Disney cinematic holocausts.

Overall, all I can say is go and see Stuart Little. Do yourself a favour. See it with a friend. In fact see it with your family, with the whole block. Didn't you ever want to join a collective, so you could never be left rejected?

adam rivett
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