The Tale of Despereaux
Rated G; Directed by Sam Fell & Robert Stevenhagen; Starring the voice talents of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Sigourney Weaver
The Tale of Despereaux is a strange little film. It doesn’t fit the usual animated movie mold. It’s not full of laughs and pratfalls, the sympathetic characters will do bad things, and the mood is rather somber. And this is for little kids? Still, the movie has its own kind of charm…as long as you are not looking for lots of laughs and pratfalls, perfectly behaved characters, and a lighthearted mood.
The stories of several characters intersect with Despereaux, an unusual little mouse; Despereaux doesn’t cower, scurry, or fear mousetraps. Other characters have their own issues. Rat Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman) is full of guilt, Princess Pea (Emma Watson) is sad, scullery maid Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman) is envious, and chef Andre (Kevin Kline) is unchallenged. All is narrated by Siguorney Weaver.
The story manages to tie all the characters’ plots together and proves to be something more than a cute little story. Yet, the movie does not manage to create any intensity or strong pace. The animators develop an artistic look of the various worlds belonging to human, mouse, and rat. The style choices are fascinating to look at, even as the animation is not at the level of many Pixar films. The voices blend with the characters and never distract from the story. There’s a load of talent in the voice cast and no one disappoints.
The Tale of Despereaux tries something different. There are gifts in the watching of the film, but a few challenges also. Its sad tone could be hard for young children, but older audiences may enjoy watching the story all come together.