Charlotte’s Web Review
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Early one morning, Fern Arable (Dakota Fanning) wakes up early to find that their pig has given birth. She gets to the barn just in time to stop her father (Kevin Anderson) from killing the runt of the litter. She begs him to let her take care of the runt instead—and he finally agrees.

When Fern’s family runs out of room for Wilbur the pig, Fern brings him across the street, to her uncle’s barn. There, Wilbur (voiced by Dominic Scott Kay) meets all kinds of animals. None of them want to play with him, though, so he makes friends with Charlotte A. Cavatica (Julia Roberts), the spider who spins her web in the barn’s doorway.

One day, Templeton (Steve Buscemi), the rat who eats Wilbur’s slop, warns Wilbur that he’s destined to become Christmas dinner. Wilbur’s terrified—but Charlotte promises that she’ll think of a way to keep Wilbur alive to see the winter’s snow. And when Charlotte starts spinning words (like “Some Pig” and “Radiant”) into her webs, she doesn’t just get the attention of Fern’s family. She gets the attention of the whole town.

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web was a book that I loved in elementary school—so I was a bit concerned about what Hollywood would do with my old favorite once they got their hands on it. And, well, it’s not flawless. There are a couple of added storylines that don’t actually bring much to the story. But, other than that, Charlotte’s Web is actually a cute movie—and a pretty accurate portrayal of the kids’ book.

I can’t believe I’m about to put this in print, but Dakota Fanning isn’t all that bad in this movie. She’s not nearly as creepy as she usually is (probably because she isn’t on-screen all the time). And, for once, I almost even liked her. Julia Roberts is calm and comforting as Charlotte—and animators did a great job of making the spider look almost cuddly. But the pig definitely steals the show. Once kids see this movie, I have a feeling that pet pig sales will skyrocket—just like they did after Babe hit theaters. Even I wanted to go out and get myself a pig—until I remembered what my college roommate’s pig farm smelled like.

If you loved Charlotte’s Web as a kid, now is the perfect time to share an old favorite with your own kids. This isn’t an over-the-top modern-day version of the story. Instead, it’s exactly as you remember it: cute and just a little old-fashioned. It’s also a little bit heartbreaking—so don’t forget to bring the tissues.

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