"The Tale of Despereaux" Movie Review
"The Tale of Despereaux" is a childrens' movie about a little mouse, a rat, a princess, and soup. A rat named Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman, "Rain Man" and "Hook") accidentally falls into the queen's special soup and she dies from the shock. Everyone in the kingdom hates rats and soup there after. The rats of the kingdom are forced to hide away in the dungeon of the castle. A little mouse with huge ears named Despereaux (Matthew Broderick, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Lion King") is born later after the soup incident. He is strange compared to the other mice and likes reading a fairy tale story about a brave knight and a princess he rescues. He meets the princess of the castle (Emma Watson, "Harry Potter" and "Perks of Being a Wallflower") and is sentenced by the mice to be banished to the dungeon for speaking to a human. Despereaux must face the evil rats of the dungeon and rescue the princess from the clutches of the rats.
"The Tale of Despereaux" is a sweet and dark little tale, but that's about all the compliment I'll give to it. It's a sweet little story, but it has some flaws. For one the animation is at times really excellent then it switches from good to incredibly poor designs. The human characters are all horribly gruesome appearing. This includes the princess who is supposed to be beautiful but just looks like she is suffering from an extreme case of anorexia nervosa. The mice and rats are designed well though. I think Despereaux is amusing and cute looking in his design.
There were also some strange unnecessary creations that were put into this movie that didn't make sense. Namely the strange soup vegetable genie thing that talks to the cook about the soup. That thing just didn't make any sense. It wasn't in the book so why bother putting that thing into the movie when it just comes off as weird not magical. When I saw it for the first time show up my mouth fell open in shock. Not amused shock, more like WTF kind of shock. I suppose children might think it's funny but it's really just plain weird. Another strange add on was that Roscuro comes from the sea with a group of what looks like pirates. In the book Roscuro was written parallel to Despereaux. He was born in the dungeon of the castle with the rest of the rats but he desired to be in the light. The only reason why Roscuro even went to the upper floors of the castle was to see the light of day. He wasn't a pirate rat that was passing though the country. This isn't a terrible add on exactly but I did feel incredibly sad that Roscuro never meets back up with his sailor-pirate buddy at the end of the movie. It seemed like they should have allowed them to find each other again at least since they created this different origin for him.
The voice acting in this movie is a little off as well. I dislike that only certain characters have accents an some don't. All of the characters are from the same place so why have some of them have English accents and some American accents? It's inconsistent the way it was done. This issue with the movie is even more troubling as the entire cast are well acclaimed actors that could -I imagine- very easily do different accents.
This movie is a bit too dark for especially young children. Particularly the scenes of the dungeon and the rats about to attack the princess are disturbing. It may be best to allow older children (perhaps nine and up) see this movie, but take caution with allowing anyone younger to see this one. If your kid got through "The Secret of NIMH" alright or they read the book "The Tale of Despereaux" then they may be fine seeing this movie. I give this a rating of three out of five stars. It's an entertaining little fairy tale but not the best it might have been.
"The Tale of Despereaux" Movie
"When your heart breaks it can grow back crooked. It grows back twisted and gnarled and hard."
A number of characters have names that are artistic references. "Roscuro" refers to the "Chiaroscuro Movement", Botticelli is a reference to the artist Sandro Botticelli, painter of "The Birth of Venus", and Boldo is named after Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a famous surrealistic painter who composed faces and figures out of various objects in the way that Boldo himself is made out of fruit, vegetables and kitchen utensils. -from Imdb