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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.52%
Average: 14.81%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 27.78%

6 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Charlotte's Web (2006)
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by U.J. Lessing

"Send This Pig of a Film to the Rendering Plant"
1 stars

I’m certainly not a purist when it comes to adapting books into movies. By all means, thrust Ian Flemming’s James Bond into the future and force him play poker instead of baccarat. Turn the infant son of Pursuit of Happyness’s Chris Gardner into a 5-year-old boy. I didn’t even mind when Hollywood gave Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter a happy ending. However, when it comes to E. B. White, I am urging… no begging… Hollywood: Please leave the man’s work alone!

All three of E.B. White’s books hold a special place in my heart. I have read each of them at least six times out loud to elementary school children, who start out impatient and listless and end up enthralled by the magical texts.

The gratification these books provide does not lie in the talking animals or the exciting events, but instead is derived from the joyful pleasures of life and nature. White carefully describes the natural world: the signs of spring, the Canadian Wilderness, Central Park, and Red Rock Lake to name a few, and blends them with feelings that every child at one time experiences: the joys of swinging on an especially long rope, the bliss at the top of a Ferris Wheel, the anticipation of imagining life as an adult.

Which brings us to director, Gary Winick’s ill-conceived version of White’s second book. Writers Susannah Grant and Karey Kirkpatrick keep White’s story and fragments of the original dialogue intact, but then opt to accentuate these pieces by adding cornball humor and mild slapstick.

As Wilbur the pig forms a friendship with the kind spider Charlotte, he not only has to contend with a future where he is to be slaughtered, but also apparently for screen time, as a host of celebrity-voiced animals vie for attention.

Also, two new characters have been conceived, a pair of stupid, vindictive crows that attempt to thwart Templeton as he aides Charlotte in her plans for saving Wilbur. Apparently, the filmmakers found the original source material too long-winded and boring and felt the need to spice things up.

Charlotte herself has been turned from a small, grey spider into a creature with a furry, teddy bear face. The result is an odd blend of Wilfred Brimley, Grizzly Adams, and Fozzie Bear. Julia Roberts does a wonderful job emulating the voice of Charlotte, but I’d rather have her reading the book than participating in this project. Why are E. B. White’s themes so quickly thrown away in favor of the atmosphere from “Babe?”

My reason for finding nothing redeeming in “Charlotte’s Web” is the simple fact that a film like this will take all the wonderful emotions, ideas, and joy the book carefully built in a child’s mind and wipe them away like a broom sweeping away a spider’s web.

In 1981, E. B. White composed a letter to animator, Chuck Jones, apologizing for not accepting his proposal for a new version of Stuart Little. He wrote, “I recently decided…to close the covers of my books to the adaptations of stage or screen. I have had some miserable experiences.” He then stated that after listening to Wilber sing “I Can Talk, I Can Talk” in the Hanna Barbara version of “Charolette’s Web,” “I wanted to run on my sword but couldn’t find it.”

One wonders how he would of felt about Templeton the Rat being shot off a fence by a cow fart.

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originally posted: 01/14/07 10:21:11
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User Comments

8/15/14 Mario is the Best I love this movie! 5 stars
7/27/12 Amanda Smith Cute, but I got bored since I read the book years before. 5 stars
11/29/09 Rachel My family loves this movie. Very cute for children! 5 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner Great Kids Film! 5 stars
2/18/08 Tiffany Losco Dakota fanning is so cute!! My daughter loved this movie. 5 stars
1/27/08 Pamela White wonderful adaptation its in my library 4 stars
11/21/07 G. Webster wonderful children's movie 4 stars
10/14/07 Brian Hallahan They crucified a literary gem. READ THE BOOK!! 1 stars
7/10/07 ES This was a masterfully done film 5 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Wholly winning adaptation of E.B. White's classic. 5 stars
5/03/07 David Pollastrini The pig was cute 3 stars
4/19/07 Abs A great film for kids. They'd love it. Adults, probably not so due to improbable plot 4 stars
4/12/07 the wizz So lame. a spider writes words in a web and the world craps their pants. YAWN 1 stars
1/18/07 Jeanne Masters Don't let Hollywood bean counters tell you what this story is about: READ THE BOOK! 1 stars
1/01/07 Sr. Margaret Ann, CSC I loved the book so it is not surprise that I love the film. It stayed true to the story. 5 stars
12/30/06 Michelle It brought back so many memories from my childhood, very heartwarming 5 stars
12/15/06 Richard Paquette excelent childrens movie 4 stars
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  15-Dec-2006 (G)
  DVD: 03-Apr-2007



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