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"CHARLOTTE'S WEB"
(2006) (Dakota Fanning, voice of Julia Roberts) (G)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None Minor Moderate *Moderate None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Minor None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None None Minor Heavy Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A spider and various barnyard animals try to come up with a way to save a spring pig from meeting his demise at the end of the year.
PLOT:
Fern Arable (DAKOTA FANNING) is a young girl growing up on the farm run by her parents (KEVIN ANDERSON & ESSIE DAVIS). On one stormy night, she rushes down to the barn and sees that a sow has had a litter of eleven piglets. But that's one more than the number of the mother's teats, and so Fern's dad is about to end the life of a runt that will otherwise starve to death. Horrified, Fern says she'll raise the piglet on her own, but her parents become concerned by her strong attachment to Wilbur who turns out to be her only friend.

When he gets too big to stay in the house, however, Fern reluctantly takes him across the road to the farm run by her uncle and aunt, Homer (GARY BASARABA) and Edith Zuckerman (SIOBHAN FALLON). There, Wilbur (voice of DOMINIC SCOTT KAY) tries to make friends with the other animals, but they'll have nothing to do with him.

There's Samuel (voice of JOHN CLEESE) the sheep who wants his flock to stop following his every move; geese Gussy (voice of OPRAH WINFREY) and Golly (voice of CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER); Ike (voice of ROBERT REDFORD) the veteran stallion; and cows Bitsy (voice of KATHY BATES) and Betsy (voice of REBA McENTIRE) who know Wilbur's fate as a spring pig -- the slaughterhouse.

Of course, he doesn't know that, but he does find a friend in the most unlikely of animals, Charlotte A. Cavatica (voice of JULIA ROBERTS), the barn's resident spider. The other animals don't like her, but then again they don't know her, and soon she and Wilbur are the closest of friends. Also aware of Wilbur's potential fate, Charlotte tries to come up with some way to make the humans realize he should be spared, a quest that soon involves Templeton (voice of STEVE BUSCEMI), a sarcastic and self-centered rat.

He only agrees to assist if it helps him in some way. That leads to several encounters with dimwitted crows Elwyn (voice of ANDRE BENJAMIN) and Brooks (voice of THOMAS HADEN CHURCH) while he's out searching for just the right word that Charlotte can spin into her web, hoping that might save her new friend.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It's a good bet many younger ones will be interested in it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: G
Presumably for not containing material that would warrant a higher rating.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
It's debatable whether kids view non-human characters as role models, but here's a quick look at their and some humans' major characteristics:
  • CHARLOTTE is the wise and friendly spider who befriends Wilbur and then attempts to come up with some way to persuade the humans to spare his life.
  • DAKOTA FANNING plays the young girl who saves Wilbur as a runt, raises him, and then worries when she learns her uncle has plans on slaughtering him come winter.
  • WILBUR is the young and amiable piglet who just wants to have friends and finds one in Charlotte. He becomes distressed when he learns of his potential fate.
  • TEMPLETON is the self-centered and narcissistic rat who only agrees to assist Charlotte and Wilbur if he somehow benefits from that.
  • SAMUEL is an elitist sheep who's tired of his flock constantly copying his every move.
  • GUSSY is the barnyard hen who has her own gaggle of chicks, while GOLLY is her boastful mate.
  • BITSY AND BETSY are the flatulent and sarcastic cows who know of Wilbur's fate and don't think there's any chance he can be saved.
  • ELWYN and BROOKS are the dimwitted crows who are constantly stymied by scarecrows and then decide to take out their frustration on Templeton.
  • IKE is the stallion who's afraid of spiders.
  • GARY BASARABA and SIOBHAN FALLON play Fern's aunt and uncle who are amazed by Charlotte's web writing, but still intend on slaughtering Wilbur come that time of year.
  • KEVIN ANDERSON and ESSIE DAVIS play Fern's parents who become concerned by her obsessive and lone friendship with Wilbur.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this G-rated drama. There isn't any profanity or sexual material, but there are some colorful phrases. Other brief behavior might also be enticing for some kids to imitate.

    Some scenes and various thematic elements (including a major character dying of natural causes and another being destined for the slaughterhouse - which never occurs) may be unsettling and/or suspenseful to the youngest of viewers, and some bad attitudes are present. Some crude humor occurs, while some crows go after a rat and a sister punches her brother in the arm for a smart aleck remark.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's some spin around camera footage of Charlotte making her web.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • One of the cows farts.
  • Templeton belches, smells the air from that, and confirms the food that it was from.
  • A cow drools and is told to "suck it up" and does.
  • A rotten egg breaks on top of Templeton, causing others to react to the smell.
  • A cow blows Templeton off a railing with a loud fart.
  • About Templeton being in a real can, one of the crows jokes that maybe they should give him some privacy ("can" also being slang for the bathroom).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • None of the barn animals initially wants to play or be friends with Wilbur (except for Charlotte).
  • All but Wilbur initially have bad attitudes about Charlotte, including Samuel who calls her "hideous."
  • The two crows decide to pick on Templeton and swoop down to do so, with one pecking at him.
  • Templeton only looks out for himself for most of the film (although he reluctantly helps others at the end).
  • Seeing Fern in a dress, her brother says, "Ew, you look like a girl," prompting her to punch him in the arm.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Fern races down to the barn in a thunderstorm at night, but she isn't afraid and is doing so to see the new litter of piglets.
  • Seeing her dad carrying an ax and the runt of the pig litter, Fern nervously asks her dad what he's doing. He states that there are 11 piglets and only 10 teats, adding that the runt doesn't have a chance. Fern then asks if he would have killed her if she were a runt, he says no, and thus agrees to allow her to raise the piglet.
  • Some kids may be worried when one scene (where Fern says she's going to take care of Wilbur) segues into another showing bacon frying in a pan (but it's not him).
  • A barn animal mentions, "You know what happens to pigs around here," with another chiming in that it should never be spoken of (referring to all spring pigs being slaughtered in the winter).
  • Those afraid of spiders might not like the initial (or subsequent) views of Charlotte, especially in close-up.
  • Charlotte catches a fly in her web, wraps it in silk, and tells the others that she doesn't eat it, but rather drinks its blood (grossing out the others, although we don't see said drinking).
  • Some kids may worry that someone is going to step on Charlotte as she scampers across the ground (in various scenes).
  • Templeton takes a rotten egg down into his cave, but it gets loose and rolls through the tunnels after him like a giant boulder (portrayed in an adventurous rather than frightening way).
  • We see Fern's brother catch Charlotte in a jar, but Wilbur tugs on his leg and allows Charlotte to escape.
  • Templeton mentions Christmas being the day Wilbur "will be cured" in the "smokehouse hotel." Wilbur then learns that all spring pigs are to be killed before the first snow and he nervously looks at the smokehouse (made to look foreboding) on several occasions.
  • Homer drops a cleaver and it nearly lands on Templeton (unintentionally).
  • When the narrator states that interest in Charlotte's web writing had waned, he adds that it looked like Wilbur might not see the first snow after all (which may worry younger kids).
  • The two crows decide to pick on Templeton and swoop down to do so, with one pecking at him. Templeton ends up in a can that rolls along and bangs into something. But as he escapes, the two crows end up flying face-first into a wall and are then covered in paint (the latter played for laughs).
  • When Wilbur does not win the best pig award at the local fair, some kids may worry that means he's going to be killed.
  • Spoiler Alert: Charlotte tells Wilbur that she's languishing, and then explains that means she's dying. He's upset over that, but she says it's the natural order of things.
  • Templeton races to retrieve a spider egg sac and get it onto a truck before it heads back to the main barn.
  • Spoiler Alert: With Charlotte too weak to return to the barn, and Wilbur and Templeton having to leave, she's left at the fair and closes her eyes to die.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the hay?" "He's as stupid as a stick," "Just because we're sheep, we don't have to follow," "Bloody," "You gassy rib eyes," "Filthy hairball," "The rat is happy," "The rat rules," "Tonight I dream of slop," "He's like a freak of nature," "Suck it up," "That thing is creepy," "What's the word? Ewwww..." "She's hideous," "Nasty-asty collection," "You really are a handsome devil," "That stinks good," "She's right as rain," "For the love of Lucy," "I'm gonna get me some rat" and "Bird-brains."
  • Fern takes Wilbur to school with her (hiding him in her desk) and later transports him in a baby carriage.
  • Templeton belches, smells the air from that, and confirms the food that it was from.
  • A cow drools and is told to "suck it up" and does.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Homer drops a cleaver and it nearly lands on Templeton (unintentionally).
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • Some suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Fern's mom worries about her having no human friends and spending all of her time with the barn animals.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Charlotte talks about how spiders control the insect population.
  • The comment that ignorance is bliss.
  • Life on a farm.
  • The life cycle of various animals (one major character dies at the end of the film).
  • Sheep shearing.
  • Fern's mom worries about her having no human friends and spending all of her time with the barn animals.
  • The comment that a spider's web in general is a miracle.
  • The notion that a promise needs to be kept.
  • We learn and then see that Charlotte is pregnant.
  • Templeton only looks out for himself for most of the film.
  • The comment that miraculous things happen every day, but we just don't know where to look for them.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Wilbur repeatedly rams into a fence board with his head to escape from his pen and chase after Fern's school bus.
  • One of the cows steps down onto a yo-yo string that's around Templeton's neck as he carries it back to his hole, causing it to go taught and yank him backwards to the ground.
  • The two crows decide to pick on Templeton and swoop down to do so, with one pecking at him. Templeton ends up in a can that rolls along and bangs into something. But as he escapes, the two crows end up flying face-first into a wall and are then covered in paint (the latter played for laughs).
  • Seeing Fern in a dress, her brother says, "Ew, you look like a girl," prompting her to punch him in the arm.



  • Reviewed November 28, 2006 / Posted December 15, 2006

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