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One night, Fern Arable (Dakota Fanning) sees a light on in the barn and knows a miracle has just happened. She rushes into the barn to see the new piglets and finds her father with the runt of the litter in one hand and an axe in the other. Unable to say no to his hysterical daughter, Mr. Arable agrees to let the piglet live.
Fern names him Wilbur (voiced by Dominic Scott Kay). She cares for Wilbur until her parents insist that the soon to be 300 pound pig must be sold. The family gives the pig to Fern's uncle, Homer Zuckerman (Gary Basaraba).
Even with all the other animals in the barn, Wilbur is lonely in his new home. That is, until he meets Charlotte (voiced by Julia Roberts), the wise spider whose web is spun in the top corner of the barn door. Charlotte becomes Wilbur's best friend.
When Templeton the rat (voiced by Steve Buscemi) discloses to Wilbur what all the other animals know but would never say - that a spring pig always turns into Christmas dinner - Wilbur fears for his life, and Charlotte promises to save him.
Charlotte spins the words, "Some Pig" into her web, and the "miracle" brings fame to Wilbur and the Zuckerman's farm. Her plan acheives true success when Wilbur wins a prize at the county fair. Mr. Zuckerman would never kill Wilbur now.
At the fair, Charlotte creates another miracle - her egg sac. She is dying and cannot return to the farm. But, loyal to the end, Wilber takes her egg sac back to the barn and looks after it until the babies hatch. Out of 514 tiny spiders, three stay to become his new best friends.
Charlotte's Web - Note to Parents
Based on the Newbery Award-winning book by E.B. White, Charlotte's Web brings the inspiring and articulate story to the big screen using live actors and animals. The movie incorporates many of the profound words penned by E.B. White, and conveys the simple moral about friendship and loyalty with enough power to swell the heart and bring a tear to the eye. While the film does deal with some heavy topics, it also points out the small miracles in every day life, and the profound way in which love and commitment can make a real difference.
Viewing children will not escape the topic of death, as the story is centered around saving Wilber from being slaughtered, but the movie deals with the themes of life and death in a respectful and thought-provoking way. Still, some children may find the implications of a pig being killed due to being a runt or for Christmas dinner very unsettling.
Charlotte's Web - Content OverviewThe following lists some of the most prominent examples of possibly offensive content in the movie (may contain spoilers):
- Fern's father is shown carrying the runt piglet and an axe. He explains to his distraught daughter that the runt will starve if he lets it live. He gives the pig to Fern when she promises to care for it herself.
- Animals in the farm discuss the fact that a spring pig usually ends up being the farmer's Christmas dinner. A smoke house is shown where the pigs are presumably cooked.
- Charlotte wraps up a fly and says she will drink its blood.
- Two crows pick on Templeton the rat and try to peck him.
Bad Behavior (Minor)
- Some animals call each other silly names.
- Fern punches her brother in the arm after he tells her she looks like a girl.
- Templeton acts very selfish and does not want to help others without some type of reward.
- Before they get to know Charlotte, some animals talk of her as being ugly and scary.
Scary Scenes (Minor)
- The scenes listed under "Violence" may be scary or unsettling to children.
- Avery tries to catch Charlotte in a jar.
- The farmer drops a knife which almost lands on Templeton.
Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Moderate)
- The scenes listed under "Violence and Scary" may be sad or unsettling.
- At the fair, Charlotte closes her eyes and is presumed to have died.
Charlotte's Web - Topics to Talk About
- Children may have questions or concerns about why the runt of the litter would starve and why the farmer would kill the runt. Kids may also have concerns about killing animals and eating them for food.
- What is the life cycle and how does it apply to humans, animals, and insects?
- What is the food chain, and how do humans, animals and insects fit into it?
- What kinds of things found in nature and every day life are miracles? One of the things that made Wilbur special is that he appreciated these miracles. How did this attitude help him to live a happy and grateful life?
- Charlotte works a miracle for Wilber, but never takes any glory herself. What does this show about her character?
- Do animals really have thoughts and feelings? What is our responsibility to animals and nature?
- What does loyalty mean? How does one convey true friendship?
- What does it mean to be humble?