No movie could do Charlotte's Web justice, said Dana Stevens in Slate.com. E.B. White's 1952 children's book is as close to perfect as literature can get, so it's no wonder that this charming-enough film version comes up short. Gary Winick's live-action film, whose animals are anthropomorphized with restrained computer graphics, is as respectful as possible of White's humble narrative. But 'œit can't translate the spirit of White's sober humanism, not to mention the dry crackle of his prose.' At least Winick didn't turn this story into an effects-heavy spectacle, said Desson Thomson in The Washington Post. 'œThe lack of technological fireworks gives audiences the opportunity to concentrate on the integrity of the story,' a fable about a runt piglet, saved from the chopping block first by a young girl, and later by a wise and talented spider. The girl is played by Dakota Fanning, whose star power doesn't mar her beautiful portrayal of Fern. The voices behind the animals are another story, said Kevin Crust in the Los Angeles Times. The casting of Steve Buscemi as Templeton the rat is inspired, but why bother with Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Redford, and John Cleese as the other animals? The story suffers every time we identify a famous voice. In its attempt to sell itself to adult audiences, Charlotte's Web seems so focus-grouped and streamlined that 'œit's lifeless.'
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