As the second part of the “Winter Brrreak at The Smith” film series, the updated “Charlotte's Web” will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, Friday the 23rd, Saturday the 24th, Monday the 26th, and Tuesday the 27th, with matinées at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St.
“Charlotte's Web” is a whimsical and warmly appealing adaptation of the children's classic. It is likely to win over new readers and still please its multi-generational legions of fans. With a widely diverse voice cast, it manages to fuse actors, live animals and computer-generated creatures (with everyone talking) in a way that brings to mind another charming film about a pig, 1995's “Babe.”
Dakota Fanning stars as Fern, the little girl who saves and names Wilbur the pig. Julia Roberts leads a star-studded voice cast as Charlotte the spider, who rescues the little porker afterward. Fans of E.B. White's 1952 book have waited a long time for a live-action large screen version of this timeless tale that touches on unlikely friendships, the power of words, the sadness of death and the hope that lies implicit in the circle of life.
The story has a pull like few others, and Sam Shepard's narration keeps everything easy and unpretentious, in sync with White's prose. Parents may have fun picking out other voices behind the animals, including Oprah Winfrey, Robert Redford, Reba McEntire, Cedric the Entertainer, John Cleese and Kathy Bates. But the kids' favorite will be Templeton the rat, the self-serving, scampering scrounger of scraps who brings back words for Charlotte for a price. As voiced by Steve Buscemi, Templeton is the ultimate narcissist, but one who ultimately reveals a gentle side, too.
The special effects are seamless: It's hard to tell the real animals from the computer-generated ones, and the lip movements are synchronized artfully. Charlotte's digitally drawn webs are a study in lacy radiance.
The movie's oft-neglected “G” rating means children of all ages, even those not old enough to read, can enjoy the journey of just under two hours.
All seats are $3; for details or to order tickets, call (315) 781-LIVE or toll-free (866) 355-LIVE or visit The Smith.