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The Tale Of Despereaux
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Reviewed on 2008-12-25
Received[3]  out of 4 stars
GenreAdventure / Animation / Comedy / Family / Fantasy
Despereaux Tilling (the voice of Matthew Broderick), a tiny mouse with exceptionally large ears and big dreams, is the unlikely hero of this fairy tale based on the Newberry Award-winning illustrated children’s book by Kate DiCamillo.

Sigourney Weaver narrates this computer-animated fable that tackles tough issues that include making new friends, death in the family, abandonment and forgiveness.

The action takes place in the kingdom of Dor, which is known for its mouth-watering soup. On the first Sunday of every spring, the king’s chef unveils his newest concoction and the townsfolk all partake in the celebration.

Roscuro (the voice of Dustin Hoffman), a ship-bound rat with a nose for the aroma of culinary cuisine, arrives in town and accidentally causes a terrible calamity.

The grief-stricken king issues an edict declaring rats as illegal and unlawful creatures. A terrible sadness envelops the community. Sunlight disappears and is permanently replaced by a dark, cloud-filled sky. It never rains. All hope is lost.

Princess Pea (the voice of Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” movies) is locked away in the castle. She is hopeful that someday her prince will come.

Despereaux is a cute little creature who wears a red cap with flaps. Unlike most mice, he doesn’t cower or scurry and is not the least bit timid. He would rather read than eat pages from a book.

He breaks a cardinal rule by talking to the princess and is banished to the dungeon. Another key character is Miggory Sow (the voice of Tracey Ullman), a slow-witted servant girl who longs to be a princess.

This crowd-pleasing diversion arrives just in time for the holidays. It is a treat for the inner child in all of us. The characters and backgrounds are elaborately rendered with the most unique being the vegetable man. You will notice soup spoons sticking out of the crown worn by the princess.

Besides the castle, dungeon and the town square, the movie takes you to Mouseworld and Ratworld. The straightforward story is told with humor and honesty. A series of mistakes and misunderstandings are neatly wrapped up with a “happily ever after” ending.

The odd mixture of British and American accents is the only bothersome drawback. The talented voice cast also includes Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Lloyd and Frances Conroy.

The themes of courage, bravery, truth, redemption and honor provide an uplifting atmosphere. The movie’s running time of 93 minutes is perfectly geared to the attention span of its intended juvenile audience.

Review By:
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"


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