Literature: Stuart Little

Stuart Little is a 1945 children's novel by Elwyn Brooks "E. B." White (1899-1985). It concerns the story of a mouse born to human parents in New York City. The early chapters concerns his everyday life in the City and encounter with a friend who saves his life, Margalo the bird.

When Margalo flies away, Stuart leaves the city in a quest to find her. He acquires a gasoline-powered model car and travels the country. He finds employment as a substitute teacher from time to time. The most notable event includes finding a love interest in his own size, Harriet Ames. They go to a single date before he leaves to continue his quest. The novel has no resolution.

Stuart Little was adapted to a namesake film in 1999, which combined live-action and computer animation. The voice for the main character was provided by Michael J. Fox. It was a box office hit, so naturally it received sequels: Stuart Little 2 (2002) and Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (2006). The second film was more of the same and did reasonably well at the box office. The third film was fully computer-animated, also directly released to video. An animated series was created in 2003 but only lasted a single season, 13 episodes.

Tropes in the book include:

  • Animal Athlete Loophole: Guess there Ain't No Rule that says a mouse can't sail in a model boat race.
  • Cats Are Mean: Played straight with Snowbell and his lady friend.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Stuart's car has an invisibility button.
  • Lilliputians: Stuart's date Harriet Ames.
  • Magic Realism
  • No Ending: The book ends with zero resolution; Stuart simply affirms his determination to find his friend, roll proverbial credits. Apparently E.B. White was concerned about his health, and decided to end the book at the best place he could find rather than keep going with it and risk leaving it unfinished at an even less satisfying point. Odd thing is, he recovered and lived another 40 years, yet he never went back to finish the book.

Tropes in the films include:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Snowbell. In the book, he is very nasty toward Stuart, without a hint of remorse. In the movies, while villainous at first, the cat eventually becomes one of Stuart's allies.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: In the first film, based on the corresponding scene from the book. Most of the boats in the race are being operated by remote control.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In Call of the Wild, when Reeko is trying to talk Stuart out of attempting to save Snowbell, we have this exchange.
    Reeko: The Beast, she's heartless. She doesn't care about anyone but herself.
    Stuart: You two must have a lot in common, huh?
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The film got a PG rating by having the villains occasionally say "damn" or "hell."
  • Big Bad: Smokey, the mob boss-like leader of a pack of cats, in the first film. The Falcon, a vicious tyrant who forces Margalo to do his bidding, is this in the second film. The Beast, a deadly Mountain Lion who forces Reeko to do his bidding, serves as the primary villain of the third film.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: When he actually has Stuart in his talons, instead of eating him, Falcon drops Stuart - who, fortunately, lands on a soft garbage bag.
    • To be fair, this is how Monte described Falcon's feeding habits earlier in the film.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In Stuart Little 2, Stuart and Snowbell head out to a seedier part of town to find the whereabouts of the villainous Falcon, Stuart as intrepid as usual, and Snowbell in the need of a litter box. They meet up with Monte, who explains to the two how sinister the Falcon is. Snowbell is left terrified:
    Stuart: Snowbell, are you all right?
    Snowbell: Yeah. In fact, good news. I no longer need a litter box.
    Monte: Mop up on aisle three!
  • Carnivore Confusion: Averted through the movies, particularly with Falcon in the second - he didn't eat Margalo because he needed an Artful Dodger, and repeatedly tells her that if HE gets his talons into Stuart, he'll eat him. Of course, when he finally does get Stuart in his talons, Bond Villain Stupidity takes over.
  • Catch Phrase: Monty's "Pleeeeease."
  • Cats Are Mean: Played with in the films. Snowbell starts out very antagonistic toward Stuart, even trying to eat him and kill him, but later is shown as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and, when his street cat friends from the alley want him to eat Stuart to be In with the In Crowd, he ultimately sides with Stuart.
  • Damsel in Distress: Margalo feigns this to get Stuart to trust her. In the end, inverted: she saves Stuart from falling to his death after he Plane Fus Falcon.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Though Snowbell is (as expected) the biggest culprit, (movie) Margalo lets a little of this sneak through from time to time, when her Ditz armor starts to crack around Stuart.
  • Description Cut: In Stuart Little 2:
    Stuart: Don't worry about Snowbell, he wouldn't hurt a fly.
    Cut to Snowbell catching and eating a fly.
    Snowbell: (burp) Oh, those flies really repeat on ya.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted, Smokey and Falcon both fall from a great height but both survive. However, Smokey is chased by dogs and never seen again. Falcon lands in a garbage can in front of Monte; though his fate isn't revealed, it looks like Monte's got quite a feast.
  • Dissimile: In Stuart Little 2:
    Snowbell: (after Stuart's car overheats) I'm telling you, Stuart, it's a sign. This is just like the Burning Bush — except it's a carburetor, and... I'm not Moses.
  • The Ditz: Margalo puts on an understated version of this, mostly to throw Stuart off the fact that she's an Artful Dodger.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Margalo apparently does this to Falcon after landing in Stuart's car. It's all fake, to ingratiate her to Stuart. Stuart lampshades it, though: "Do we really want to antagonize him?"
  • Faux Affably Evil: Falcon talks casually, but when something gets in the way of his shinies, the talons immediately come out.
  • Feathered Fiend: A rare "noble" example: the (Peregrine) Falcon of the second movie, who fancies himself a feathered Fagin to Margalo's Artful Dodger.
    Falcon: Don't make friends I can eat.
  • Fluffy Dry Cat: Snowbell in the animated series.
  • Furry Confusion: In the film, Stuart is an anthropomorphic mouse adopted as a son by humans; as a result he has a pet cat. Snowbell also speaks, however. It's implied that all cats and mice have intelligence in this world, but are generally treated as we treat animals anyway. Stuart being given "special treatment" creates a bit of a social scandal in both the human and animal worlds.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Falcon explaining to Stuart that Margalo is simply an Artful Dodger, and her friendship was a lie to get the Littles' wedding ring. Stuart stops it by shooting an arrow at him, which simply pisses him off.
  • Happily Adopted: Stuart. Somewhat averted in that there is initially a little sibling tension within his new family.
  • Happily Married: The Little parents, to the point where they each finished the other's sentences. The moment they couldn't tell what the other was thinking led to slight panic, but all got resolved.
  • Heroic BSOD: Stuart suffers one in the second movie after he ends up in a landfill. Then he finds the wreckage of his plane...
  • In Name Only: The books were set in the late 1940s, Stuart was born from a human mother rather than adopted, and only the boat race in the first movie bears any resemblance to the events of the book. The films sequel follows the original novel more closely.
  • Interspecies Adoption: As mentioned above, the book claims that Stuart was born from a human mother, but the movie explains this as the reason why Stuart has human parents to begin with.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Snowbell.
  • Magic Realism
  • Mouse World
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Margalo says this almost word-for-word after Falcon apparently drops Stuart to his death.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Falcon has quite the reputation, even among the street cats.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The first film is a criminal offender. Several commercials show Stuart flying a plane or fighting the cat and other cool things, but none of that happens in the film. But they do happen in the ending credits in a montage that depicts what happens after the story is over.
  • No Sell: The second film has something sort of like this. After being told that Margalo isn't going anywhere, Stuart replies, "Yes she is!" and fires an arrow at Falcon - which simply bounces off his beak. He grabs Stuart in his talons and drops him off the building.
    Falcon: Is that your best shot? Now let me show you mine.
  • Raised by Humans: Stuart in the films (as opposed to the books, where he's a mouse mysteriously born to human parents).
  • Shout-Out: "You do too much, you're not Mighty Mouse you know?"
  • Surprisingly Functional Toys: Stuart drives an off-the-shelf RC car around, as opposed to the book version, where it was custom made.
  • Smelly Skunk: Reeko from the third film. Ultimately is used on the Beast in the end.
  • Trailer Spoof: The trailer for Stuart Little 2 imitated moments from the first Spider-Man movie.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: In Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild, the character of Reeko the skunk, voiced by Wayne Brady.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: In the second film, Stuart befriends Margalo, a little bird who is menaced by a peregrine falcon. This would just be another case of Carnivores Are Mean, but note that Margalo is an Artful Dodger disguised as an adorable female canary and the falcon is depicted as a vicious, mad-eyed, scheming Fagin Expy voiced by James Woods.
  • Who's on First?: In Stuart Little 2, when the falcon has trapped Margalo under a can:
    Margalo: Snowbell? Is that you? Is that really you?
    Snowbell: Margalo? Where are you?
    Margalo: In the can.
    Snowbell: Oh, okay. I'll wait.
    Margalo: No! In the paint can!
  • You Got Spunk: In Stuart Little 2:
    Snowbell: [to Stuart] You've got guts, kid! Guts, and... and spunk! Not to mention moxie! You got guts, spunk and moxie!