The Tale of Despereaux looks a little like Shrek. The storytelling and animation draw on everything from Ratatouille and classic fairytales to Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Indiana Jones, and, in its action sequences, even Bourne and Bond. But this movie stands on its own; too dark and violent for very young children, perhaps, but for the most part its exciting and funny, and it delivers a message about bravery and forgiveness that is relevant to us all. Voiced by Matthew Broderick, the title character is a little guy, even by mouse standards, with enormous ears and... an imagination to match; much to the dismay of his elders, he "never cowers, wont scurry, and refuses to be taught to be scared" (hed much rather read a book than eat it, a pursuit that fills his head with visions of valiant knights, damsels in distress, and a life defined by "courage, honor, and decency"). That leads to his being banished from Mouseworld to the realm of the rats, where, it is presumed, he will be eaten. But no. Ratworld--a dark, chaotic, genuinely scary place--happens to be the current residence of one Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), a peaceful sort whose shenanigans in the human world have accidentally led to the death of the Queen, the imprisonment of the Princess (Emma Watson), and, worst of all, the banning of Soup Day (no small deal) and the end of soup itself! Roscuro and Despereaux join forces, inadvertently helped out by a homely but soft-hearted farm girl named Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman), and, well, you can imagine how it all turns out. Directors Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen and scriptwriter Gary Ross (adapting Kate DiCamillos book) have concocted some vivid and interesting worlds for their film; the look is unusual, often washed out, muted, and bathed in hazy light; and the voice acting is excellent (others include William H. Macy, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, and Frank Langella). All in all, despite a conclusion thats confusing even while its predictable, The Tale of Despereaux is a worthy addition to the crowded animation field. --Sam Graham [show more]
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Children's animated adventure featuring an all-star voice cast including Matthew Broderick, Sigourney Weaver and Dustin Hoffman. The film tells the tale of Despereaux Tilling (Broderick), a misfit mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea (Emma Watson), a rat called Roscuro (Hoffman) who lives in the darkness but covets a world filled with light, and Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman), a slow-witted serving girl with cauliflower ears who harbours one simple, but utterly impossible, wish. The unlikely trio embark on an adventure-filled journey that takes them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and into a circle of friendship that will never be broken.