Charlotte’s Web

December 15th, 2006 Film, Film Reviews, Filmink

A cute talking pig on a farm in rural Victoria? Where are James Cromwell and Magda Szubanski when you need them?

Wilbur has the drop on Babe however, being part of one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time — even long before Babe director George Miller played trucks and guns in the desert with Mel Gibson on the set of Mad Max.

Following the adventures of a runt piglet adopted by Fern (the ubiquitous Dakota Fanning), the headstrong daughter of a farming family, Charlotte’s Web is the timeless story of friendship between the unlikeliest of creatures, a pig and a spider. In this era where even blockbusters are assigned subtexts to give them more depth, you could say it’s a plea for racial tolerance.

Despite his innocence and trust in his newfound friends at the barn where he lives, Wilbur is destined for the smokehouse before winter, so Charlotte A Cavatika (Roberts) — the spider who lives in his doorway — sets about helping Wilbur convince the humans he deserves a fate better than Christmas dinner.

She does so by spinning inspirational descriptions of Wilbur in her web for the awestruck townspeople to see, and the two become the closest of friends in the process.

CGI and live action combine seamlessly to give the animals life, and some of the biggest names in entertainment give them voice. The structure and tone is perfect for the moppet target audience, but at the younger end of the scale.

What’s interesting to realise is the way classic tales are updated for audiences of the modern youth. After a generation of thrills from Star Wars to Toy Story, a spider and a pig making friends just doesn’t provide enough of a fast sensory hit or enough eye candy for kids these days, so modern embellishments you’d never see in a movie or book 40 years ago — from fart jokes to modern culture nods — abound.

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