Stuart Little is a 1999-2005 live-action/computer-animated film trilogy, based on the 1945 children's novel by E. B. White. The films are produced by Franklin/Waterman Productions and released by Columbia Pictures. The first two films were directed by Rob Minkoff (of The Lion King fame) with the first film being notably co-written by M. Night Shyamalan. It even features one of his customary plot twists!
Live-action roles include Jonathan Lipnicki, Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie as the Little Family (George, mother Eleanor and father Frederick), while the voice-over roles include Michael J. Fox (Stuart) and Nathan Lane (Snowbell the cat). The film spawned two sequels in 2002 and 2005 respectively, and a short-lived animated series in 2003.
The film's plots are as follow:
- In the first film, the story starts when the Littles adopt Stuart at an orphanage. The mouse's new parents are happy with him, but his new brother, George, initially isn't. As Stuart is beginning to adapt, things get complicated when Snowbell, the family's pet cat, tries to get rid of him and his supposedly lost parents, the Stouts (voiced by Bruno Kirby and Jennifer Tilly), appear in the scene.
- In Stuart Little 2, Stuart meets a canary bird named Margalo (voiced by Melanie Griffith) and both become friends. What he doesn't know is that Margalo is forcefully working with a cruel peregrine falcon (voiced by James Woods) who wants her to steal Mrs. Little's ring or else he will kill her new rodent friend. Margalo leaves to save Stuart's life and the mouse goes on her trail thinking the Falcon had kidnapped her.
- Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild is a direct-to-video fully CGI animated sequel. Most of the cast returned to voice their respective characters (Laurie, Davis and Fox) except for Nathan Lane (who was replaced by his Timon substitute, Kevin Schon), Steve Zahn (who voiced Monty, Snowbell's feral cat best friend) and Jonathan Lipnicki. In this one, Stuart and his family go for a camping trip. Stuart joins the scouts and makes good friends with Reeko the skunk (voiced by Wayne Brady), who like Margalo, works for a ferocious employer called The Beast (voiced by Virginia Madsen).
Tropes in the films include:
- Actor Allusion: Nathan Lane provides the voice of a cat in a movie with a mouse as the main character.
- 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.
- Adaptation Species Change: It's never explained why Stuart looks like a mouse in Stuart Little. He is the biological son of two normal humans and it's never referred to as any sort of fictional disorder. He's just presumed to be a mouse looking boy. In the films he is an actual mouse who ends up adopted by the Little family.
- Adult Adoptee: Sort of. Stuart is 18-years-old in mouse years when he's adopted by the Littles. Not that extreme an example, but still technically an adult.
- Anachronistic Orphanage: Despite the first film supposedly being set at the tail end of the 20th century, Stuart lives in a public orphanage in New York before he ends up adopted by the human Little family.
- 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.
- Arc Words: “Every cloud has a silver lining” in the second.
- Armor-Piercing Question:
Frederick: George, I understand. I have a brother. But whatever I promised him, if he was in danger, that would matter more to me than the promise.Eleanor: George, how would you feel? How would we all feel if anything happened to Stuart?
- In the second movie, Mr and Mrs Little confront George, having realized he's lied to them about Stuart's whereabouts. George tries not to break his promise, but his parents break through the armor with this:
Reeko: The Beast, she's heartless. She doesn't care about anyone but herself.Stuart: You two must have a lot in common, huh?
- In Call of the Wild, when Reeko is trying to talk Stuart out of attempting to save Snowbell, we have this exchange.
- The Artful Dodger: Margalo the canary is this at the beginning, when she pretends to be friends with Stuart, to steal Mrs. Little's ring and give it to Falcon. But when she begins to really enjoy her friendship with Stuart, it makes she forget about her main assignment. And this makes Falcon begin to lose patience.
- Artistic License – Geography: As the sequel began production prior to 9/11, it was forced to edit out the Twin Towers prior to release. However, in one shot (where Stuart flies past the Empire State Building in his toy plane), the space where the towers once stood can be seen, and if one looks closely the distinctive WTC7 building is still present, but without the towers: WTC7 had collapsed five hours after the Twin Towers did, making it stand out as an obvious edit for those familiar with the NYC building layout.
- Art Shift: While the first two films were live action/animation, the third was done entirely in CGI.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The first film got a PG rating by having the villains occasionally say "damn" or "hell."
- Award-Bait Song: The first movie has You're Where I Belong by Trisha Yearwood and the second has I'm Alive by Céline Dion.
- Ax-Crazy: The Falcon in the second movie, especially during the climax.
- Baby's First Words: At the very end of Stuart Little 2, Martha says her first words as Margalo flies away: "Bye-bye, birdie!"
- Berserk Button: Anton pushes George's during the boat race by calling Stuart a stupid mouse, then saying he's actually a stupid rat. Big mistake.
- 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 her bidding, serves as the primary villain of the third film.
- Black Best Friend: Will to George in the second film.
- Bland-Name Product: In the first film, Stuart gets a suit from a toy store selling the doll "Ben", an obvious reference to the Ken doll, off by just one letter.
- 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, though, this is how Monte described Falcon's feeding habits earlier in the film.
- Buffoonish Tomcat: Monty due to his ditzy moment(s) of being slapstick-prone. Snowbell can be prone to having slapstick situations, but it's usually in Stuart's adventures as he isn't always being a buffoon while Snowbell can be humorous or comically cowardly or unlucky at times.
- 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 Monty, 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!
- The Bully: Anton in the first film is this to George.
- Butt-Monkey: Snowbell ends up falling in this trope in the second movie, especially with all the bad luck he gets in the second half of the film.
- 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.
- Monty's "Pleeeeease."
- The taxi driver in Stuart Little 2 likes saying "Okey-dokey, no problem!"
- 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.
- Chained to a Railway: Stuart pretends this in the first film in front of George. However, it was a toy train and he used his tail.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Anton rams other boats with his during the boat race in order to damage or sink them, much to the anger of one of the other racers. The controls to his boat fail and he loses the race after Stuart manages to untangle his boat from Anton's.
- Colour Motif: Yellow is a prominent colour in the movie; the Littles are shown wearing yellow clothing, Margalo is a yellow canary, and the children's football team wears a yellow uniform.
- 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 come back 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, while Falcon lands in a garbage can in front of Monty; though his fate isn't revealed, it looks like Monty'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.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
Mrs. Keeper: Mr. and Mrs. Little, we try to discourage couples from adopting outside their own…species. It rarely works out.
- This little bit from the first movie is quite similar to interracial adoption:
- In the second film, the relationship between Falcon and Margalo seems very similar to that of a domestic abuser and their victim respectively, especially when Falcon is angry. Word of God implies that this was at least somewhat intentional, as part of what makes the Falcon so terrifying is that he actively denies Margalo her rights, autonomy and freedom, and not only threatens her but also her concerned friend who wants to help her. It gets further emphasized when Margalo tells Falcon she's "leaving" him at the climax.
- 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.Margalo: Get lost, you disgusting vulture! Eat my feathers, you vile buzzard!Stuart: Do we really wanna antagonize him?
- Doomed Supermarket Display: We don't see it, but we are told that Stuart's parents died in an indecent where a stack of soup cans fell over and crushed them.
- Eat the Camera: Happens in the second film when the soccer ball is kicked with Stuart in tow.
- Exact Words: In the second film, Falcon prepares to drop Stuart.Margalo: Don't hurt him, Falcon!
Falcon: I won't hurt him. THE SIDEWALK WILL!
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Smokey is chased away by dogs at the end of the first film.
- Eye Scream: A mild example, but Stuart uses his mother's ring to reflect in the sun and blind Falcon into crashing.
- The Fagin: The Falcon in the second movie is this to Margalo, when she lost her mother, Margalo was adopted by Falcon, she became his Artful Dodger. He assigns her to steal household valuables from the Little family. However, it seems that Margalo cannot concentrate on her assignment as she begins to enjoy her friendship with Stuart. As Falcon loses patience, he threatens Margalo to steal Mrs. Little's ring or else he will kill Stuart.
- Falling-in-Love Montage: In Stuart Little 2, there is a love montage between Stuart and Margalo as they enjoy spending time together, such as Margalo watching Stuart skateboarding, Stuart and Margalo eating marshmallows by the Littles' warm fire. Also Stuart and Margalo at a baseball game with the Littles and Stuart and Margalo watching a romantic movie together.
- 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.
- Fictional Greetings and Farewells: The Little family has "Little high, little low! Little hey, little ho!"
- 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. Both films tend to downplay this latter aspect, treating mice more as miniature hairy humans than actual rodents.
- Grail in the Garbage: The makers used the Berény painting Sleeping Lady with Black Vase as a prop, unaware of its hidden significance as a lost painting. The painting itself was only discovered to be the painting in 2009, when an art historian watched the film on television with his daughter.
- Hannibal Lecture: Falcon explaining to Stuart that Margalo is simply an Artful Dodger, and her friendship was a lie to get Eleanor's wedding ring. However, Margalo tells Stuart that their friendship is genuine and Stuart believes her. Stuart shoots an arrow at Falcon, 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: Frederick and Eleanor, 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...
- Identification by Dental Records: It is stated that Stuart's birth parents were killed in a grocery store incident where a stack of soup cans fell over and crushed them. The bodies had to be identified by their dental records.
- Infant Sibling Jealousy: The movie shows a variation of this. George is initially unhappy about his new brother, but only because he is a tiny anthropomorphic mouse.
- 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 film's 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.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Anton gets his during the boat race when the controls to his boat fail after he had used it to ram other boats and sink them. See also Cheaters Never Prosper.
- Literal-Minded: In "Stuart Little 3":Mrs. Little: I don't know, Stuart. Something could happen to you.Stuart: But I want something to happen to me.
- Magic Realism
- Misplaced Wildlife: In "Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild", The Beast, which audiences assume to be a bear, is revealed to actually be a cougar.
- Missing Child: Midway through the first film, Stuart's parents find out his biological parents actually have been confirmed as being dead for years and call in the police. They find out that their son has been kidnapped by a couple of strangers, and that, according to the authorities, their modus operandi fits criminals interested in thrill-killing, not ransom. Luckily, Stuart's fake parents turn out to have a conscience and he finds his way home, but Mr. and Mrs. Little are scared to death in the meantime.
- 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: Was that your best shot? Now let me show you mine.
- Not Good with Rejection: Falcon does not take kindly to Margalo leaving him — at all.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging/Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Margalo is assigned by the evil Falcon to steal household valuables from the Little family. However, Margalo can't seem to focus on her assignment as she starts to enjoy spending time with the family, and becoming smitten with Stuart. Finally losing his patience, Falcon threatens Margalo to steal Mrs. Little's ring or else he'll kill Stuart. Reluctantly, Margalo steals Mrs. Little's wedding ring. When the Littles notice the ring missing, they think it's fallen down the drain and Stuart volunteers to go after it, but the string that's holding him breaks. Margalo saves him, but Stuart's gratitude towards her only makes her feel more guilty.Stuart: Margalo, You're the best friend I ever had.
(hugs Margalo, who sadly hangs her head in guilt)
Margalo: (opens the window and looks back at the sleeping Stuart) I'm sorry, Stuart. (sadly flies out the window)
- Later that night, Margalo gives a sleeping Stuart her precious jeweled stick-pin, before leaving the house out of guilt and shame.
- Oh, Crap!:
- In the first film:
- Snowbell has one when Monty sees Stuart in the cereal box.
- Snowbell has another one later when the Littles discover that the Stouts are not Stuart’s real parents, and get the police involved.
- Snowbell: (running to Monty) They know about the Stouts! They know about the Stouts! The jig is up! What are we gonna do?!
Monty: Hey, get ahold of yourself. What are you talking about?
Snowbell: This is very— I'm in big—! I'm in DEEP POOPY-DOO!
- Stuart has one when he gets lost in Central Park and the cats start appearing.
- In the second film:
Will: What are you gonna do now?
- George gets one when he has to lie to his mother again, supposedly having just left Stuart at Will's house, and then Will shows up at the door. He manages to cover himself.
- George has another one when his mother finally realizes he's been lying about where Stuart is.
George: Which way's Canada?
- Falcon has one when he sees he's on a collision course with a popcorn stand, before crashing through it. He has another one when Stuart's plane is about to hit him.
- Stuart has one when the plane's propeller slices open his parachute.
- In the first film:
- Product Placement: In the second movie when George's friend Will comes over, he says that he brought his PS2. The film was distributed by Sony Pictures, and the PlayStation 2 was produced by the Japanese electronics division of Sony (which is the same company that purchased Columbia in the 1980's).
- Rascally Raccoon: Played straight in the animated series episode "The Great Outdoors", where a pair of raccoons serve as an antagonistic version of this trope, since they not only try and steal The Littles' food but also threaten Snowbell that they will pluck his fur for refusing to give them the food.
- Raised by Humans: Stuart in the films (as opposed to the books, where he's a mouse mysteriously born to human parents).
- Related Differently in the Adaptation: In the original book, Stuart is the Littles' biological son...even though his parents are human and he's a mouse (or at least looks like a mouse, which is never explained). The film makes him their adopted son instead, as it's less odd (though everyone is still nonplussed about anthropomorphic mice). It adds a plot in which his adoptive human brother George, who is initially disappointed by Stuart, comes to accept him; family cat Snowbell also temporarily tricks Stuart into leaving the family by pretending to have found Stuart's birth parents (who actually died when he was a baby).
- Resourceful Rodent: Since Stuart is the average size of a mouse, he has to use toys as everyday items. He has to wear clothes from toys and use toy vehicles as transportation. In the sequel, he rebuilds a toy airplane with trash to fly it home.
- Retro Universe: The film takes place in modern times, but the way the Littles dress, do their hair, the style of their house and the way they carry themselves, are very reminiscent to that of 1945, the year the book was published.
- Samus Is a Girl: The cougar in "Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild" turns out to be female.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Margalo pulls one on Falcon on top of the Pishkin Building when he's about to kill Snowbell, by telling him if he does it, he'll lose Mrs Little's diamond ring, which he forced her to steal.Margalo: Don't do it, Falcon! Or else!
Snowbell: Do what?! What's he doing?!
Falcon: Or else what?
Margalo: Or else, you'll lose... this. (holds up Mrs. Little's ring Falcon forced her to steal)
Falcon: Put that down, Margalo!
Margalo: I'm through doing what you tell me to do! I'm leaving you, Falcon, forever!
Falcon: Oh, and what do you think you'll be without me?!
Margalo: Free. (flies off)
Falcon: Big mistake! I'll be back for you, furball!
Snowbell: Don't hurry!
- Shout-Out: "You do too much, you're not Mighty Mouse you know?"
- Smug Snake: Anton. He's a bully to George and is smug most of the time with little reason to be.
- 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.
- Status Quo Is God: Monty does not appear to have any resentment in the second movie towards Snowbell after the latter threw the former to the cold water of the lake inside the Central Park with the posse that was supposed to eat Stuart not with Stuart for not having been able to eat him in the first movie.
- Test Kiss: At the end of the third film, Brooke kisses George on the cheek.
- They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: In the first movie.Smokey: Say goodnight, Tinkerbell.Stuart: Hey, Smokey! His name... is Snowbell!
- Trailer Spoof: The trailer for Stuart Little 2 imitated moments from the first Spider-Man movie.
- Tranquil Fury: The Falcon shows more than a hint of this after Stuart's above-mentioned No-Sell arrow-to-the-beak, punctuated by a fierce Death Glare:Falcon: Was that your best shot? Now let me show you mine.
- Vague Age: Stuart. Though he is adopted by the Littles and is mainly treated as a child by them, he is able to drive, sail a boat, and has an adult voice actor. Also none of the adult animals treat him as if he were any younger than him (other than the Stouts, but that was part of the plan). Perhaps he's a kid to humans and an adult to other animals?
- Villainous Breakdown: The Falcon in the second film does not take kindly to Margalo leaving him and retaliates by murderously pursuing her. He might have succeeded if Stuart hadn't saved her in time. Unfortunately, this only breaks the Falcon down even more, which becomes all the more acute when Stuart manages to outwit him during the climactic chase, during Stuart tricks the Falcon into crashing into a popcorn stand and shattering the glass case.
- Wham Line: When Mrs. Keeper explains to the Littles that Stuart's birth parents were killed in a grocery store incident, she then clarifies that they were killed years ago which makes the Littles realize that Stuart's been kidnapped.
- 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, Ax-Crazy 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!
- Why Won't You Die?: The Falcon really wants Stuart dead. This becomes especially acute when Stuart returns from the garbage truck in the plane and manages to resist him during the chase and the Falcon tries to kill him by tearing off the top wing of his plane.Falcon: A mouse has to know his limitations!