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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Endearing!
I've seen several movie versions of CHARLOTTE'S WEB. The story of the friendship between a runt pig and a spider in the barn has been around entertaining children for dozens of years. But I have never seen a production that came even close to the new movie in theaters everywhere.

The recent release of CHARLOTTE'S WEB is simply amazing. I can't wait for the...
Published on January 17, 2007 by Mel Odom

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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The 1973 animated version is much better
As with Walden's first adaptation--The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe--this is an okay movie that could have been vastly better. It is a superior adaptation to Wardrobe, in that it follows the source material more faithfully both in story and characterization, but it still fails most in those key areas, and in important ways that the animated version didn't...
Published on March 23, 2009 by Clint D. Hayes


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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Endearing!, January 17, 2007
I've seen several movie versions of CHARLOTTE'S WEB. The story of the friendship between a runt pig and a spider in the barn has been around entertaining children for dozens of years. But I have never seen a production that came even close to the new movie in theaters everywhere.

The recent release of CHARLOTTE'S WEB is simply amazing. I can't wait for the DVD to come out, and I'll really be disappointed if there isn't some in-depth special features regarding the making the of the film, particularly the computer animation aspects. Watching the animals talking and interacting onscreen was nothing short of magical.

There is an incredible shift from the human point of view in the film to the animal one that is almost seamless unless you're looking for it. I was, and it was still so effortless that the transition doesn't jar viewers at all. The handoff is smooth and remains highly believable.

My 9-year-old went with my wife and I, and even though he'd seen the story a number of times on DVD, he fell in love with it all over again. I loved hearing him laugh, and I couldn't help but remember the first time I'd heard CHARLOTTE'S WEB read to me by a schoolteacher.

The story is timeless and will always be around. But it's been waiting all this time for movie-making magic to truly unlock a way for audiences to watch it presented so much in the flesh.

No only is the video aspect so good, but the voice talent gathered for the film is outstanding. Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, Oprah Winfrey, Cedric The Entertainer, Reba McEntire, and many other recognizeable voices (including Sam Shepard as the narrator) all contributed to this amazing experience.

If you want to have a great time and be a child again, go see CHARLOTTE'S WEB. If you want to bring delight to a child, take one with you. You'll be glad you did.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some Pig Indeed: Moving Story of Charlotte and Wilbur, December 30, 2006
First I must confess that I have never read the original book `Charlotte's Web' by E. B. White or seen the 1973 animated film version (with Debbie Reynolds' voice). So please read my review of this new live-action version as such, though probably this kind of confession is really unnecessary.

Wilbur is a `spring pig' who is destined never to see the winter. Charlotte, a spider living in Wilbur's pen, hatches a plan with Wilbur to change his fate. The story is deceptively simple, but there are messages behind it, which is not hard even for the kids to find as the story unfolds. Even for the adults the film's last 20 minutes is quite moving.

Dakota Fanning plays a girl Fern, who saves the life of Wilbur in the earlier part of the film. One thing I like about the film's script (by Susannah Grant and Karey Kirkpatrick) is that there is another coming-of-age story about this girl, who is about to grow up and leave her childhood behind. At first Fern and Wilbur look like inseparable friends. Fern tries to bring the pig to the school, hiding him in the desk. However, by the end of the film you will be seeing another Fern, more grown-up, less childlike. No one can remain a child forever, and Fern, or perhaps Dakota Fanning herself, embodies this poignant fact.

Charlotte's voice is provided by Julia Roberts. It may be slightly weird to imagine a spider speaking with Julia's voice, but it works with her voice expressing the motherly wisdom and concerns convincingly. Impressive cast is gathered for the voices of the animals in the barnyard, and Steve Buscemi as Templeton the Rat and John Cleese as Samuel the Sheep are standout.

These animals are all perfectly created with impeccable special effects, but you may feel some part of the film detract from their effects on us. I am not sure the film really needs two meddling crows or fart jokes, and if the film company thinks that their film needs them to keep the kids interested, they are utterly mistaken. They have a charming story of Wilbur and Charlotte, and they should be much more confident, especially when they have this cast and Danny Elfman's wonderful score.

If I may borrow Charlotte's word, `Charlotte's Web' is truly `some' film, and its radiant charms are more than this single word can convey.
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The 1973 animated version is much better, March 23, 2009
By 
As with Walden's first adaptation--The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe--this is an okay movie that could have been vastly better. It is a superior adaptation to Wardrobe, in that it follows the source material more faithfully both in story and characterization, but it still fails most in those key areas, and in important ways that the animated version didn't.

The most off-putting and probably most egregious error on director Winick's part is to make Fern such an impertinent, downright snotty little girl. In the book Fern is determined, but not rude. Neither is her father the milquetoast that he's made to be in the film. Ditto Templeton the rat, who is turned from an irascible malcontent into an outright bully. Such characterizations are completely unnecessary and in fact detract from the story. (Which again was the core failure with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Seems to be a Walden thing.)

This ties into a problem with the casting in general. Julia Roberts was simply the wrong voice for Charlotte. The '73 version had the good grace and foresight to cast Debbie Reynolds as Charlotte. Reynolds' soothing, melodic voice was perfect for a creature meant to be soothing and enchanting. There is life and wonder and hope in it. Roberts' voice is simply too flat and nasally, and becomes actually grating. The casting on the rest of the animals was fine (though the body humor got old after the second "joke"; I long for the days when body "humor" wasn't considered simply part of kids' movie genre), but of the humans only Beau Bridges stands out. I like the actors who played the various parts, but they too come off as lifeless. The whole affair is simply flat, which is ironic considering the wondrousness of the tale attempting to be told.

And then there's the decision to go with hyperrealistic special effects. I found myself wishing they'd stayed with the neat animation that introduced the movie. Instead we're treated to super-macro shots of a spider worthy of an electron microscope. Director Winick should have had the sense to realize that there's no way to make a spider cuddly in close-up. The animated '73 film was wise enough not to try; it showed Charlotte in just enough detail to give her form and features, and left it that. This one, again like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, wants to show off at the expense of the story.

Some of the non-book material is witty, but for the most part it's not and obviously tacked on to tickle kiddies' funny bones. It does, so in that sense I suppose it works, but it's laziness on the part of the filmmakers to feel it's necessary.

In sum, what should be a magical, uplifting movie comes off as flat and, in fact, a little boring. Maybe one of these days the film industry will discover that special effects and high-caliber casts aren't enough to save a lackluster script. It always comes down to the writing, and it simply isn't very good in this version of Charlotte's Web. It has its heart in the right place, and doesn't stray far from the original book in actual plot, for which I have to commend it at least three stars, but it's more interested in being a comedy made for kids than a drama made for smart people, young and old. This is why the '73 version continues to hold my kids in thrall after at least a score of viewings, but they were so bored on a second watching of this new film that they wanted to leave early.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Done, April 14, 2007
Very faithful adaption of the book with an all star voice cast. This is really a terrific tale of friendship and loyalty that is a must view for the family. The story is funny and sweet and is done right from start to finish. The fun part for adults is trying to guess the voices of all the animals. A few are obvious, but some take some time to figure out. This is certainly one to pick up.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At 46, I've Seem 'Em All---- This Is One of the Best EVER!, April 3, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a 46-year-old man, I'm not easily moved by many films. I rented this new version of "Charlotte's Web" because I didn't see much else of interest at the video store, and I remembered liking the book very much as a young child. I had no great expectations, just mild curiousity.

But was I blown away. First of all, the book came rushing back to me as soon as the story started to unfold. This version of the story is very faithful to the original work (ok, maybe the original "slaughterhouse" has been toned down [only somewhat] into a "smoke house," but nothing has really been diminished in the translation). True to the original, we have a pig (some pig!) in trouble, and a lovable spider to the rescue. The same old story--- and thankfully so. This tough, middle-aged guy was reduced to tears at several scenes throughout the film--- and that NEVER happens. But the good news is, they were GOOD tears! You'll shed them too if you indulge yourself in this amazing movie. Oh, and kids will probably like it too!

P.S. Reluctant to part with my rental copy, I just placed an order for a copy of my own. It's that good...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved it., March 22, 2007
By 
SteakSalad101 (Madison, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
Now, before we start with the teasing and making fun of me, hear me out on this one. I have loved and treasured the book "Charlotte's Web" ever since I was little. I still remember the time I was in Italy with my family and it was a rainy day so my dad rented the old edition of "Charlotte's Web" from an American movie shop. At the end, me and my sister were both crying. My sister was crying because Charlotte died. I was crying because we didn't get to see Charlotte die. Though I was younger then, and have matured greatly since, I couldn't help but see the new remake of the film. What appealed to me most about this film is the stellar all-star cast. It was absolutely PACKED with some of the best actors of today (and yesterday too!), including my favorites John Cleese and Dakota Fanning and Julia Roberts (who was PERFECT for Charlotte). Not only that, but we got Oprah Winfrey, Robert Redford, Thomas Haden Church, Cedric The Entertainer, and a million others. First of all, the new movie is very, very, very true to the book. In fact if I go and read the book over right now I'm sure about 95% of its content would have been in the film. It was also very funny and I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. The animals in Zuckerman's Farm are very, very well done and Templeton the rat is a fantastic character. The one thing that bothered me is that Dakota Fanning's acting skills were very disappointing. When you compare her role as Fern to her roles in "I Am Sam" or "War of the Worlds," her role in CW is surprisingly below-average. She was still a good choice for Fern, but I felt like she was NOT using her full potential, which I know she has. And after the movie was done this guy was giving out free posters so I grabbed one. And people stared at me as I was leaving with the look that says "Why the hell is that teenager over there carrying a Charlotte's Web poster??" And I stare back with the look that says "Screw you, Charlotte's Web owns joo!" Overall, this was a great movie, and it's a breath of fresh air from the super-violent slasher horror films that are out today. If you love the book today, or loved it yesterday, you are guaranteed to love this movie.

4-Stars
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done! Funny and Enjoyable!, January 9, 2007
This movie is good for all ages. I really enjoyed hearing several voices of different well known people in this movie: Julia Roberts as Charlotte the Spider, Reba McEntire and Kathy Bates as sister cows, Oprah as a goose, Robert Redford as the horse, John Cleese as the head sheep, Thomas Haden Church as a crow, etc. It was very enjoyable to hear them.

The movie is about a man is going to kill a runty piglet, but his daughter stops him promising to take care of the pig. She names him Wilbur and treats him like a baby. Wilbur has to stay in the girl's uncle's barn. There Wilbur meets several animals but only really makes good friends with a spider: Charlotte. Later, Wilbur finds out that he's going to become dinner at Christmastime, so he and Charlotte think of a plan to help him stay alive...

This is a super movie and I really enjoyed seeing it!
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite Things, April 10, 2007
This movie is a wonderful and entertaining adaptation of the children's book by E B. White, which was published all the way back in 1952. Lending their voices are celebs like Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Buscemi, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Thomas Haden Church, Robert Redford, Cedric the Entertainer, Reba McIntyre, Andre Benjamin and Sam Shepard, plus live performances by Dakota Fanning and Beau Bridges, among others. With this kind of star power, who can resist taking a peek at this version of the classic tale?

Here's the gist of the movie, best sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things":

Pig slops for Wilbur, the runt of the litter
Saved from the slaughter, he's one lucky critter
Fern kept the pig from her father's sharp knife
Begging and pleading for her piglet's life

Down in the barnyard are sheep for the shearing
Horses and geese, plus the cows that they're rearing
A very wise spider who cares for a friend
Promising he won't be ham in the end

Charlotte the spider worked all the night spinning
Working her webbing right from the beginning
The first ones to see it, their eyes grew so big
The words she had woven, they spelled out "SOME PIG"

Soon the time comes when they're ready for smoking
In comes the rat just a pryin' and poking
Charlotte persuades him to help with her plan
To keep little Wilbur from the frying pan

If their plan fails
At the fair ground
It'll all be in vain
But simply remember once words can be found
That things will be fine again

Notes:
The music for "My Favorite Things" was composed by Richard Rodgers, and the lyrics were written by Oscar Hammerstein II. My apologies to both gentlemen.

This is dedicated to my friend Len, who suggested the theme, even though I'm quite sure he was joking.

Amanda Richards, April 10, 2007
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Along Came a Spider, December 21, 2006
By 
This film adaptation of E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web" is one heck of a charmer: delightful, funny, and touching, flaunting its family-oriented plot with themes of friendship, loyalty, and to some extent, isolation. I enjoy films like this because they tell a simple story without getting sickeningly sweet about it; there's an underlying darkness to this story, especially when it comes to the realities of life, death, and the role animals play in a human's existence. Very early on in the film, Wilbur the Pig (voiced by Dominic Scott Kay) learns that humans don't necessarily love pigs, but they sure do love pork. And consider the moment directly after we first meet Wilbur; we see a shot of bacon strips frying in a skillet.

The story of Wilbur is classic, pretty much to the point of becoming a fable. He's an underdog, born as the runt of a very large litter of piglets. We first see him trying to nurse on his mother, having absolutely no luck finding an unoccupied teat. The sow's owner, Mr. Arable (Kevin Anderson), notices this, and immediately decides that the best course of action is to kill the piglet with a dramatically large axe. This is something that his daughter, Fern (Dakota Fanning), will not allow; "If I was born small," she pleads, "would you have killed me?" She immediately takes the piglet and begins caring for him. She feeds him. She sings him to sleep every night. She even brings him to school, where she unsuccessfully attempts to hide him in her desk.

But after a while, Wilbur becomes too big for her to care for at home. Her only option is to send him across the street and place him in her uncle's barn (however, she still plans to see him everyday). This is the point at which we meet the rest of the animal cast, all of which begin speaking. Most of their initial dialogue is demeaning mutterings about how Wilbur is a sad, pathetic, and downright stupid animal (not helped by the fact that Wilbur tried to escape in order to reunite with Fern). All the barn characters are appropriately developed, each having a specific personality quirk that give them some dimension: the cows Bisty and Betsy (Kathy Bates and Reba McEntire) are consistently pessimistic about Wilbur's future; Samuel the Sheep (John Cleese) desperately wants his companion sheep to stop following his every lead; Ike the Horse (Robert Redford) is mildly bitter and fearful of spiders; Gussy the Goose (Oprah Winfrey) is level-headed, but her husband, Golly (Cedric the Entertainer) verbally bows to her every whim.

Templeton the Rat (Steve Buscemi) is one of the most self-serving fictional characters in existence. With him it's never a matter of helping someone in need; it's a matter of helping someone in need if it means access to more free food. No wonder the barn animals despise him. The fact that he's brutally honest makes matters worse. He gives Wilbur the cold hard truth: come Christmastime, he'll end up as the holiday ham on the dinner table. Wilbur had already seen the dreaded smokehouse--a solitary structure made to look as drab and heartbreaking as a prison--but he never believed that Fern's uncle would ever do him any harm. Now he's in a state of panic; he's a spring pig who only wants the chance to see the Christmas snow.

And that's when Charlotte the Spider (Julia Roberts) is introduced. Charlotte A. Cavatica is her full name, and despite her sweet (if a little monotone) voice, she may actually be frightening to those who have a fear of spiders; she's not made to look overtly cartoonish, nor is she cute. Nonetheless, she and Wilbur quickly form a friendship, helped by the fact that the other barn animals find them both undesirable. In realizing Wilbur's situation, she decides to help him. "How?" Wilbur timidly asks. "I don't know," she replies, "but I made a promise, and I never break my promises." How sweet a sentiment, especially when coming from a life form that does a better job in instilling fear than in making friends.

As it turns out, her very own web is the most useful tool. When the farmer's son arrives to give Wilbur his slops (which Templeton is simply mad about), he sees a spider web with the words "Some Pig" written on it. Almost immediately, the entire town is abuzz with the talk of this miracle web, turning Fern's uncle--Homer Zuckerman (Gary Basaraba)--into the local celebrity. The front pages of the newspapers proudly display photos of Wilbur, the wonder pig who clearly has someone watching over him. It also makes the bond between him and Fern even stronger, something that gives her mother (Essie Davis) cause for concern. In two distinct scenes, she speaks with the local doctor (Beau Bridges), a character I wish had been given more screen time; his musings on the innocence of childhood and the wonder of spider webs were quite interesting.

Within weeks of Wilbur's discovery, the fervor dies down. This means that he's no closer to being spared than he was before Charlotte came along. This sets the rest of the film into motion, the majority of which involves Charlotte's attempts to help her friend. More words are written, resulting in more press. Still, Wilbur's life remains at stake. At one point, she wonders why the humans continuously need to be reminded of what's been in front of them the entire time. I actually found that to be very profound, despite the fact that it's part of a child-friendly film; it's as if she's daring us to reconsider the thoughts and feelings we have for anyone or anything we know. I suppose the same idea applies to animals, which is problematic for those of us who aren't vegetarians. One look at Wilbur and I guarantee you that bacon will look less appetizing (if only for a little while).

Such is the way with Underdog Story films, which have been notoriously effective at instilling compassion, love, and admiration for the main character. Wilbur is eventually entered into a county fair contest; one that he thinks will determine his life expectancy. We want for him to win. We want his life to be spared. Basically, we want a happy ending. I obviously can't give away the final outcome for those who have not read the book or seen the 1973 animated version. What I will say is that some of the more sensitive viewers will most likely be bawling by the time they leave the theater. I admit that I came close; there are some genuinely heartfelt moments that transcended childhood levels of entertainment. I greatly enjoyed "Charlotte's Web"; it's thoughtful, it's fun, and it's generally well made.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlotte's Web, January 30, 2007
This movie should have been nominated for Picture of the Year!!! Yes, it's that great!!! I went and took the 5yr. old granddaughter and my 32yr. old daughter too and we all loved it. I hated to leave!! We all cried at the end. The first time I have ever cried over a spider!! Gives a whole new meaning to nature's little creatures to me!! I would like to go see it again this weekend. It's fantastic!!! Can't wait until the DVD comes out!!! I'm already looking for the poster!!
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Charlotte's Web (2006)
Charlotte's Web (2006) by Gary Winick (DVD - 2007)
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