Even after more than a decade in the US, strange little pockets of culture shock remain. Americans can’t possibly believe I’ve never seen a single episode of Gilligan’s Island or Three’s Company. (I counter with Augsburger Puppenkiste and Asterix.) Charlotte’s Web, the children’s story by E.B. White, is another blind spot in my education–or it was, until this new film version came along, starring adorable Dakota Fanning, slick CGI, and voices by Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Kathy Bates, Thomas Haden Church, and Robert Redford.

As far as stories about swine go, the barnyard Bildungsroman about Wilbur the spring pig and his unlikely friendship with a spider never reaches the lofty heights of Babe II: Pig in the City. The Danny Elfman score is laid on much too thick, and the ending suffers from a few too many sentimental speeches. But Charlotte’s Web is sweet and fun, and there are some very clever lines. When was the last time you saw a movie that raises the narrative question of whether or not the pig is going to spit out the spider’s egg sack the rat brought over? The moral of the tale: “It’s not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

Charlotte’s Web. Gary Winick, 2006. ***

Bonus: Euro Nostalgia
YouTube is dominated by the new CGI Urmel aus dem Eis, so instead, here’s a delightfully trashy techno remix of the Jim Knopf theme, “Eine Insel mit zwei Bergen.” No German my age can resist this stuff. Die Wilde 13 was always my favorite.