Charlotte's Web Reviews
Remember the peaceful atmosphere of bedtime storytelling? The kind that allows parent and child to take satisfaction in the story, not the teller? That's how Charlotte draws you into its web.
Woe be to the child who doesn't mist up at this movie, since it's been made if not with zip, wit, or imagination, then at least with sweetness. But I hope no one will think the film is an adequate replacement for White's book. That would be a crime.
Like its porcine protagonist, E.B. White's classic 1952 story Charlotte's Web manages to be both radiant and humble. If only the same could be said for Gary Winick's live-action adaptation, which is neither.
Some will bristle at liberties taken. Cows do indeed break wind. Yet the movie's use of flatulence is less a nod to rural truths than a reliance on what has become a go-to gag in movie's made for the booster-seat set.
Director Gary Winick keeps the film's modesty of scale and generosity of spirit in mind throughout. The story has a pull like few others, and Sam Shepard's narration keeps everything easy and unpretentious, in sync with White's prose.
[The film] relies heavily on the voices, though the actors are sometimes miscast (Julia Roberts as the spider) or chosen more for their on-screen personas than their pipes (Steve Buscemi as the rat).
How could Charlotte's Web go wrong? It doesn't. It's a perfectly respectful, take-the-kids, down-home but enchanting-enough adaptation of the story of a pig who learns about life from a spider. Take the kids, especially the young, unsullied ones.
There's too much talent and too strong a story to mess it up. There was potential for more here, but this incarnation is nothing to be ashamed of, and some of the actors answer the bell.