Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Stuart Little Adoption Movie Review
Eleanor and Frederick Little have gone to an orphanage, hoping to adopt a child to be a brother to their young son George. They are surprised to find that they fall in love with an anthropomorphic mouse named Stuart. Wise and kind, Stuart warms the Littles’ hearts, and they decide to take him to their home. While their extended family is largely supportive, George refuses to accept Stuart as a brother, and the family cat, Snowbell, sets plans in motion to have Stuart removed from the home. Although George eventually calls Stuart a brother, Snowbell contacts a gang of criminal cats who hire two mice to pretend to be Stuart’s parents. They explain that they gave Stuart up for adoption because of their poverty, but say that now, they have come to reclaim him. The Littles somberly let Stuart go, believing that he will be better with his supposed parents. Shortly after Stuart leaves, the Littles learn that Stuart’s birthparents died years ago. Realizing that they have been tricked into turning Stuart over to kidnappers, they set off to find him. Stuart realizes his predicament as well, but when he returns home, the Little house is empty except for Snowbell. Snowbell sends Stuart away again, telling him that the Littles are much happier without him. Eventually, Snowbell has a change of heart. He and Stuart help each other escape from the gang of cats that are now after both of them, and they return to the Little home where they can now begin their lives as a happy family.
The Adoption Connection
The Littles adopt Stuart; although they and their extended family embrace him, their son George (and their pet) are initially very unhappy to have Stuart in their family. Stuart knows nothing about his birth parents, and expresses a loneliness for them. The Littles try to learn about them for him. In a development similar to Annie, Stuart is kidnapped by two adults pretending to be his long-lost parents.
Stuart is consistently positive; he is loved by the Littles, and is eventually embraced by the whole family.
Snowbell eventually declares that family doesn’t have to look alike.
Stuart’s adoption from the orphanage by a family who had met him only minutes earlier isn’t how adoption typically works in the US, and could confuse some younger viewers. I also noticed that the adoption agency did not make any home visits to the Little home; had they done so, they probably would not have placed a mouse in a home with a pet cat.
Some viewers could be triggered when Stuart is effectively kidnapped from his adoptive family by people pretending to be his birthparents. This could touch on issues of longing for absent birthparents, and it could also touch on fears of being abducted by birthparents. It’s also concerning how quickly the Littles handed him over, without even any official notice.
George is initially unkind to Stuart, saying that Stuart is not his brother. He only seems to come around when Stuart performs well in a race.
The orphanage director, Mrs. Keeper, cautions the Littles that adoption outside of the species rarely works out.
Snowbell seems to intend to let Stuart drown.
After Stuart is rejected by George, he asks the Littles about his birth family; Mrs. Little’s initial reaction is to tearfully bemoan the fact that Stuart must hate her and her husband. Their feelings are believable and eventually they do look for the information that Stuart is missing, but I wish their first reaction to him asking about his birthfamily wasn’t quite so negative.
Stuart’s imposter birthparents tell the Littles that, although Stuart might feel like part of their family, he actually is not.
Stuart takes responsibility for the feelings of his adoptive brother and adoptive parents. When he believes he is living with his birthparents, he promises that he will take care of them.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Little do love Stuart, there’s a lot of concerning stuff here. His brother rejects him. The family pet tries to get him killed by mobsters. Stuart is kidnapped by people posing as his birthparents. We learn that Stuart’s actual birthparents were killed when they were crushed by cans in a grocery accident. Stuart’s adoption agency places him without even visiting the home, and this puts Stuart in danger. Although this could be a lighthearted film for some viewers, it’s probably a safe one to skip for most adoptive families.
Questions for Discussion
What makes family, family?
Why did George eventually change his mind about Stuart? Why did Snowbell?
In what ways was Stuart’s adoption like your adoption? In which ways was it different?