The term "little" works well in describing Rob Minkoff's Stuart Little 2. After all, this cuddly sequel to the 1999 hit is a little more visually polished, a little funnier, and a little more madcap. However, given the film's thin little plot and threadbare character development, there also appears to be little reason to make a Stuart sequel, save for lining the pockets of those involved with a little more money.
Little 2 starts off strong enough, reintroducing dad Fredrick (Hugh Laurie), mom Eleanor (Geena Davis), son George (Jonathan Lipnicki), and adopted child Stuart (voice of Michael J. Fox), who's actually a talking mouse. Since last we met the Little clan, the family has added baby girl Martha, which gives Eleanor someone else to dote over besides her pint-sized sons. Speaking of, Stuart's depressed because George is outgrowing the novelty of having a kid brother.
Instead of exploring its established characters - a wealth of material, in my opinion - Little 2 introduces new character Margalo (voice of Melanie Griffith), a yellow canary who enlists Stuart's help to avoid a stalking falcon (voice of James Woods). Perhaps screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin missed the episode of The Simpsons where Homer voices doomed character Poochie - an immediate detriment to the popular Itchy and Scratchy program. New characters signify serious droughts in creativity.
Margalo and Stuart become fast friends, which solves Stuart's existential dilemma and sets up a shamelessly fluffy music video montage of caring, sharing, and togetherness. Ugh. However, the plot thickens when we learn Margalo's got ulterior motives, leading to a NYC-based adventure for Stuart and his cat chum, Snowbell (voice of Nathan Lane).
As in the first film, Manhattan and its recognizable landmarks play significant roles in Stuart, and Steven B. Poster's vibrant cinematography brings the Big Apple to life. Too bad it's the human cast who really needs the jolt. Perennially young Lipnicki (this kid should be driving by now) possesses the pizzazz of a potted plant, while Davis buries her character in petty fits and fusses. Only the animated animal characters pick up the slack. The neurotically hilarious Lane gets more sarcastic quips in this sequel, while Fox loads Stuart with sincerity, warmth, and endless charm.
The Stu 2 DVD features a filmmaker commentary and a pop-up track that takes viewers to outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. A handful of extra games and videos will appeal to the kids.