Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde, Henry Gibson, Rex Allen, Danny Bonaduce
Director: Charles A. Nichols & Iwao Takamoto
Series: Charlotte’s Web #1
Release Date: 1 March 1973
Length: 94 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“E. B. White’s timeless story comes to life in this animated musical from directors Charles A. Nichols and Iwao Takamoto. Join Wilbur the pig (voiced by Henry Gibson), Templeton the rat (Paul Lynde) and Charlotte the spider (Debbie Reynolds) as they learn about friendship, trust and love. When Wilbur is sold to a farmer and finds out that he will eventually be killed for food, Charlotte convinces the farmer that Wilbur is a very special pig.” — Netflix.com
I rented this movie on a whim and am happy that I did so – I fell in love with it all over again! I remember that I watched this movie all of the time when I was a kid, but I hadn’t seen it in years and was pleasantly surprised to see how well it held up as I watched it again. I was struck by how fantastic the music is in this movie. There are a LOT of songs in this movie and they are really good quality. There are sweet little lullabies like “There Must Be Something More” and upbeat, vivacious songs like “I Can Talk.” Children will be tapping their toes and singing along before you know it! The animals are also super adorable in this movie. They somehow managed to take pigs, rats, and spiders and make them into unique, interesting characters that you like (even though I don’t particularly care for any of these animals in real life). The way that they animated these animals gave them so much personality and life. And the voices really added that last, final touch to make you believe that animals really do think and act just the way people do!
The storyline is cute and yet educational. It is easy for most of us to forget where our meat and other farm-provided food comes from. We don’t want any cute little piggies to die, but it is a process of life, just like understanding that spiders don’t have a very long lifespan. This movie helps remind you of how the food chain works and yet lets you know that your choices make a difference to animals, too. The animation has held up really well over the years and is very well done. I just wish that they had taken the time to remaster this movie before releasing it on DVD as it looks like they just transferred the old VHS version onto a DVD and sent it out. There are some quality issues on the DVD, unfortunately, and I feel that this movie is well-liked enough and timeless enough to deserve the upgrades and the updates to keep it fresh for a new generation of viewers. A must have for DVD collections for young children.
Even though this movie talks about pigs being killed and eaten and other farm life activities, there is nothing shown that would be inappropriate for children. Recommended for viewers of all ages.