Charlotte’s Web opens today nationwide:
“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” So ends “Charlotte’s Web,” by E. B. White, not only one of the most beloved children’s books, but as close to perfect as any book I can think of.
Gary Winick’s film, from a script credited to Susannah Grant and Karey Kirkpatrick, may not be perfect, but it honors its source and captures the key elements — the humor and good sense, as well as the sheer narrative exuberance — that have made White’s book a classic.
Charlotte’s lines are spoken by the biggest star of all, Julia Roberts, whose voice is as precise and melodious as a well-tuned piano. Ms. Roberts clearly understands that what makes Charlotte such an unforgettable character is not only her generosity, but also an intellectual rigor that stops just short of pedantry and a slightly starchy sense of her own dignity. In Wilbur’s eyes, she is the ideal grown-up: a mentor, teacher and protector whose love has no stickiness or strings attached.
…the movie is a delight: never coarse, rarely preachy and less concerned with proving its own cleverness than with paying tribute to the wisdom of White’s book. I am tempted to plagiarize the immortal words of its heroine: “Charlotte’s Web” is humble, and also terrific.
From The New York Times.