Of the four, it is the last that best describes director Gary Winick's take on Charlotte's Web. While certainly not just “some pig,” it isn't exactly “terrific” or “radiant,” either.
Although the biggest stars the 1973 cartoon of the same name could boast were Agnes Moorehead, Debbie Reynolds and, um, Danny Bonaduce, it was certainly much more — pun intended — animated, due in large part to a sing-along soundtrack that included “I Can Talk,” “Chin Up” and the rousing “Zuckerman's Famous Pig.”
Also, there weren't any farting-cow jokes.
That isn't to say, however, that this Babe -esque treatment — with its celebrity voices coming out of the mouths of (mostly) real animals — is entirely without charm. Andre Benjamin and Thomas Haden Church provide some welcome comic relief as a pair of crows whose craving for corn is stymied again and again by that (wink, wink) weird-looking guy in the ill-fitting hand-me-downs who seems to stand watch over every field in Somerset County. And the scene where Wilbur tries to spin the “world's first pig web” in his pen using a ball of twine is undeniably cute.
It's just that, to paraphrase the narrator himself: “What was amazing yesterday is suddenly ordinary today.”
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Dominic Scott Kay, Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Cedric the Entertainer, Kathy Bates, Reba McEntire, Andre Benjamin, Thomas Haden Church and Robert Redford
Director: Gary Winick
Screenwriters: Susannah Grant and Karey Kirkpatrick
Producer: Jordan Kerner
Genre: Family comedy drama
Running time: 97 min.
Release date: December 15