Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure
Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure is a 2003 American animated musical adventure comedy-drama film, and the sequel to the 1973 film Charlotte's Web, which was based on the children's novel of the same name by E. B. White. It was produced by Paramount Pictures (as the logo is seen on worldwide releases), Universal Cartoon Studios (as the logo is seen on international releases), and Nickelodeon; and distributed by Paramount Pictures in North America and Universal Pictures overseas.
The film centers around Wilbur, who lives on Homer Zuckerman's farm and is taking care of Nellie, Aranea, and Joy, Charlotte's three daughters. He also must save his new friend, a friendly black lamb named Cardigan, from being eaten by an evil fox named Farley.
- Fern, the spirited young girl who fought to save Wilbur's life in the original film, is now a chipped-tooth hick who is only interested in winning a state fair prize for an enormous homegrown tomato. She even goes as far as to name the tomato and sing to it.
- This movie came out 30 years after the first movie, which is already so late to make a sequel.
- Since the original book by E. B. White was standalone, a sequel of the original story seems odd.
- Wilbur is a big coward in this movie. In the original film from 1973, he overcame his fear of being slaughtered and had not worried about it anymore by the end of the movie. But here, it seems like the writers made this reversal of Wilbur's character just to make a plot out of it.
- The character designs in this movie, while well-crafted, are not consistent with those of the original. For example, Wilbur is depicted as having hair.
- The title alone is not only rather generic but also misleading since Wilbur's "great" adventure isn't really that.
- The sheep who taunt Cardigan never get their comeuppance.
- There are decent songs, such as "Watch Out, Wilbur the Pig", which is heard in a nightmare sequence.
- Good voice acting.
- Nellie, Aranea, and Joy, who are Charlotte’s children, are considered to be the best characters in the movie.
- It has a good message of accepting people who are different.
- Decent animation.
Upon release, Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure received generally unfavorable reviews from critics. Robert Pardi of TV Guide reviewed the film saying that "This 20-years-later follow-up fails to capture the zest of the original cartoon, transforming E.B. White's beloved characters into cute sidekicks worthy of Barney. Brian Webster of Apollo Guide gave the film 59/100, stating "This is the sort of bland adventure that kids will have seen a hundred times before, with not-so-tense near-misses and not-so-exciting chases along the way." Mike Long of DVD Talk opined that "The lame story isn't helped by the mediocre at best animation. The art has no real style and could have come from any Saturday morning cartoon. The colors are good, but they only draw attention to the overall lack of detail here." Entertainment Weekly's Allyssa Lee gave the movie a C– grade, writing, "A sloppy second of a sequel, Web 2 unravels all the charm of E.B. White’s classic (not only has Wilbur become a swine who belches, but he sings about it, too)."
Richard Rowell of lifesuccessfully.com wrote a mixed review and concluded that "Overall, this film would have never done very well had it not be packaged with the DVD release of the original film. It was a direct-to-DVD film and it shows. While it makes for a cute spectacle for fans of the original story, it has all sorts of plot-holes that kill it for me. It's clear that there was some effort put into character development, and I did enjoy seeing Aranea, Joy, and Nellie come to life. They were the best part of the film for me. But overall, the film was so corny and cliched that it just can't hold a candle to the original. For what it is, though, it's OK. But unless you're a huge fan of the original story, it's not really worth watching." Jules Faber of dvd.net similarly called it "A disappointing excursion that merges old school with a new school and succeeds in distancing itself from both. There are plenty of characters to amuse the children, but as far as grown-ups are concerned, this is less than plausible. Bunches of pretty colors and some beautiful backgrounds were the highlight here for me and are also sure to capture the kids’ eye for the entire 80 minutes. I’ve seen better animation in better packages, but I’ve also seen much, much worse for around the same money." Mirella Roche-Parker of michaeldvd.com rated it with 1.5/5 stars with the final comment "Who can know the minds of children when it comes to children's movies? If your particular batch of little'uns enjoyed the original, they may very well enjoy this. For my taste, it simply made me miss the original more."
The film was rated 4.5 out of 10 stars by users on IMDb. Despite this, most reviews were positive at Amazon.com.
- This movie was Paramount's attempt to follow in the footsteps of Disney's direct to video and The Land Before Time sequels, and there were originally going be more Charlotte's Web movies following this, but they were scrapped due to poor critical and financial performances. The Charlotte's Web franchise was revived in 2006 with a live-action adaptation that was faithful to the original book.