In this, Minkoff's first live-action film, Michael J. Fox is the voice of Stuart Little. Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie star as Eleanor and Frederick Little, with Jonathan Lipnicki as Stuart's big brother George and Nathan Lane as the voice of the family cat Snowbell.
The film was released on December 17, 1999, by Columbia Pictures. It received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects nomination, but lost to The Matrix. The film, the first in the film series, spawned a sequel in 2002, Stuart Little 2, the short-lived television series Stuart Little: The Animated Series in 2003, and another sequel in 2005, the direct-to-video Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild.
It was Estelle Getty's final film before her retirement in 2001 and her death in 2008.
Eleanor and Frederick Little and their young son George are intending an adoption. While George is at school, his parents go to an orphanage where they meet and fall in love with a humanoid mouse named Stuart. Despite misgivings from Mrs. Keeper, they adopt Stuart and take him home. However, Stuart is greeted coldly by George, who refuses to acknowledge the mouse as his brother, and the family cat Snowbell, who is disgusted at having a mouse for a "master". Despite Eleanor and Frederick's intentions, Stuart quickly feels like an outsider in the large Little family, especially when the family's unknowing relatives bring Stuart large presents and George snaps at his family, claiming out loud that Stuart is not his brother. When Stuart admits his feelings of loneliness to his parents, they ask Mrs. Keeper to do some background research on Stuart's biological family.
After accidentally stumbling across George's playroom in the basement, Stuart finally bonds with George when they play together and plan to finish George's remote controlled boat, the Wasp, for an upcoming boat race in Central Park. At the same time, however, one of Snowbell's alley cat friends, Monty visits unexpectedly and discovers Stuart. Determined not to have his reputation destroyed, Snowbell meets with Monty's leader, Smokey, a mafia don-like alley cat, and plans to have Stuart removed from the household without harming him.
Stuart and George finish the Wasp in time for the race, but on the day of the race, the control is smashed when a bystander accidentally steps on it. Stuart pilots the Wasp himself, but ends up in a tussle with a larger boat belonging to George's rival, Anton, who has already smashed the rest of the boats without being disqualified. Stuart snaps the wires of Anton's boat and manages to win the race, at the same time finally winning George's acceptance and respect. During the family celebration, however, the Littles are visited by a mouse couple, Reginald and Camille Stout, who claim to be Stuart's parents who gave him up to the orphanage years ago due to poverty. Reluctantly, Stuart leaves with the Stouts, George presenting him with his toy car as a farewell gift. A few days later, however, Mrs. Keeper comes to visit and tells the Littles that Stuart's parents actually died many years ago in a supermarket accident. Realising their son has been kidnapped, the Littles call the police and stick posters of Stuart's face across the city.
Meanwhile, Snowbell meets with Smokey and the alley cats: he had actually conspired with them to have the Stouts pose as Stuart's parents in order to remove Stuart from the household. Fearing retribution should the Littles discover Snowbell's deception, Smokey orders the Stouts to hand Stuart over to them, but the Stouts, having grown to love Stuart like their own, tell him to flee. Smokey subsequently orders a manhunt for Stuart. They corner him in Central Park and a chase ensues. Despite losing his car and almost falling down a storm drain, Stuart manages to evade Smokey and return home, unfortunately, while the Littles are out putting posters up. The only one present is Snowbell, who lies that the Littles have been enjoying themselves greatly since Stuart's departure, and uses Stuart's removed face from the family photograph as proof (which they had actually used for the posters). Heartbroken, Stuart leaves again, but Snowbell begins to question his actions when he sees the pain the Littles are going through.
The alley cats locate Stuart in Central Park and bring Snowbell for the hunt. Snowbell locates Stuart first and saves him from the cats, but they catch up and eventually corner Stuart hanging for his life on a branch. The cats almost catch him, but Snowbell breaks the branch they are standing on, sending them falling into the river below. Smokey prepares to push Snowbell to his death from behind, but Stuart hits him off the tree with another branch. All but defeated, Smokey leaves angrily, but is attacked by stray dogs.
Stuart and Snowbell return home and share a happy reunion with the Little family.Michael J. Fox as Stuart Little
Geena Davis as Eleanor Little
Hugh Laurie as Frederick Little
Jonathan Lipnicki as George Little
Nathan Lane as Snowbell
Chazz Palminteri as Smokey
Steve Zahn as Monty
Jim Doughan as Officer Allen and Lucky
David Alan Grier as Red
Francisco Gattorno as Carlos Gomez
Bruno Kirby as Reginald Stout
Jennifer Tilly as Camille Stout
Stan Freberg as Race Announcer
Jeffrey Jones as Uncle Crenshaw
Connie Ray as Aunt Tina
Allyce Beasley as Aunt Beatrice
Brian Doyle-Murray as Cousin Edgar
Estelle Getty as Grandma Estelle
Harold Gould as Grandpa Spencer
Patrick Thomas O'Brien as Uncle Stretch
Julia Sweeney as Mrs. Keeper
Dabney Coleman as Dr. Beechwood
Miles Marsico as Anton
Jon Polito as Officer Sherman
Joe Bays as Race Starter
Taylor Negron as Salesman
One of the paintings used as a prop for the Littles' home was the 1920s painting Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Hungarian avant garde painter Róbert Berény, which had long been considered a lost painting. A set designer for the film had purchased the painting at an antiques store in Pasadena, California for $500 for use in the film, unaware of its provenance. In 2009, art historian Gergely Barki, while watching Stuart Little on television with his daughter, noticed the painting, and after contacting the studios was able to track down its whereabouts. In 2014, its owner sold the painting at an auction for €229,500.
Stuart Little was released theatrically on December 17, 1999. On its opening weekend, Stuart Little grossed $15 million, placing it at #1. It dropped to #2 over its second weekend, but went back to #1 on its third weekend with $16 million. According to Box Office Mojo, its final gross in the United States and Canada was $140 million and it grossed $160.1 million at the international box office, for an estimated total of $300 million worldwide.
Stuart Little received generally positive reviews from movie critics. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 66% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 97 responses with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's consensus reads: "Stuart Little is charming with kids and adults for its humor and visual effects." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 61 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.
The film was released to VHS and DVD on April 18, 2000. It was later released on a Deluxe edition on May 21, 2002 and on Blu-Ray Disc on June 28, 2011.
The soundtrack album Stuart Little (Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture) was released by Motown/Universal Records on November 30, 1999, on audio CD and compact cassette. Tracks in bold do not appear in the film.
- I Need to Know – R Angels (3:54)
- The Two of Us – S Club 7 (3:35)
- You're Where I Belong – Trisha Yearwood (4:17)
- You Can't Rock Me – The Brian Setzer Orchestra (2:40)
- 1+1=2 – Lou Bega (4:04)
- He Rules – 702 (3:04)
- Home – Brian McKnight (4:22)
- Walking Tall – Lyle Lovett (3:16)
- Lucky Day – Matt Goss (4:03)
- Mouse in the House – Colby O'Donis (4:34)
- The Boat Race – Alan Silvestri (5:12)
- I'm Gonna Miss You – Alan Silvestri (4:43)
- You're Where I Belong (Soul Solution Remix) – Trisha Yearwood (4:04)