Charlotte’s Web (2006)

Animals and children make for good family movies, particularly when the lead animal in Charlotte’s Web is an adorable pig, Wilbur, who doesn’t think he’s all right until an equally insecure spider, Charlotte, points out Wilbur’s fascinating quality.

Plot Summary: The classic story of loyalty, trust, and sacrifice comes to life in this live-action adaptation. Fern (Dakota Fanning) is one of only two living beings who sees that Wilbur is a special animal as she raises him, the runt of the litter, into a terrific and radiant pig. As Wilbur moves into a new barn, he begins a second profound friendship with the most unlikely of creatures – a spider named Charlotte – and their bond inspires the animals around them to come together as a family. When the word gets out that Wilbur’s days are numbered, it seems that only a miracle will save his life. A determined Charlotte – who sees miracles in the ordinary – spins words into her web in an effort to convince the farmer that Wilbur is “some pig” and worth saving.

Wilbur is going to be served as pork chops for a local farm family, which makes you hanker for veggie burgers instead of bacon. “You can’t do this to this lovely cute pig!” I cry.

Fortunately, the butcher is held at bay by the considerate spider scheming up ways to secure the cleavers where they belong.

And she stirs up media frenzy out of organic silk webs and borrowed vocabulary that would make city slickers proud, all going to the cause of keeping Wilbur in the barn and off the torture table.

I don’t know whether the producers, or the writer of the book on which this is based, intended what is perhaps the warm theological metaphor in this – someone saves us because we are worth it. There’s also a strong message about friendship grounded in reality.

A vegetarian’s good night out? Possibly. Also, it’s great for families. Charlotte’s Web is impossible to dislike. It is inoffensive but most of all it is touching. It brings back the basics of watching movies when the young girl behind me is heard unashamedly weeping by her mother at the end. That’s the power of storytelling for anyone.

Release Date: December 15, 2006
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Gary Winick
Screenwriter: Susannah Grant, Karey Kirkpatrick
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Cedric the Entertainer, André Benjamin, Thomas Haden Church, Robert Redford, Reba McEntire, Kathy Bates
Genre: Drama, Family
MPAA Rating: G

The original text was edited by Garth George and published in Challenge Weekly in 2006. published the original text without edits in 2006.

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