Charlotte’s Web tells the tale of Wilbur, the runt of the spring litter of piglets, who is saved from certain death by Fern (voiced by Dakota Fanning), the farmer’s daughter. Fern nurtures and feeds Wilbur and fights for his right to life, but when her care for him affects her school life, her parents encourage her to place him in her uncle’s barn across the road.
In the barn, Wilbur meets the menagerie of farmyard animals and the odd rodent. His cheery and all-welcoming disposition is at odds with the fearful and suspicious attitude of the other animals. He finds a friend in a spider named Charlotte (Julia Roberts), who herself is despised by the other animals. When it is apparent that Wilbur’s life may be at risk, due to the fast approaching winter and Christmas festivities, Charlotte makes a promise to Wilbur to save his life. Wilbur’s infectious personality, Charlotte’s efforts and the increasingly supportive help of the other animals have a positive impact on the farm, its residents and the whole town.
The cycle of life
There is some violence in this movie including:
- When attempting to escape the barn and follow Fern to school, Wilbur repeatedly runs head first into a wooden fence beam. He is briefly stunned and thrown back each time, but is eventually successful.
- Templeton (the Rat) is chased by two hungry crows who peck him on the back. As he tries to escape, he has a number of falls and crashes, and is heard to yell out briefly in pain.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains one example of mild coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Charlotte’s Web is a children’s fantasy tale about overcoming adversity and prejudice, and seeing beauty in the ordinary. Children and adults are likely to find the story and characters appealing. Some children could be concerned by the threats to Wilbur, his distress and Charlotte’s death. Children who are particularly frightened by spiders might be worried by Charlotte.
You may wish to talk about the values presented in this movie:
- kindness, patience and generosity
- seeing beyond the superficial or the ordinary
- sticking up for your friends and what you believe in.
You could also discuss the cycle of life – the idea that Charlotte’s death will be followed by life continued through her children.