The animation is simply magnificent; each world has its own flavor and feel.
One of the reasons we go to the theater is for an escape from our lives and the world in which we live. We go hoping for adventure, love, laughter or any number of expectations we bring with us. The Tale of Despereaux, based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, is all the things we want our movies to be, and is appropriate and entertaining for all ages.
Despereaux Tilling (Matthew Broderick) is a small mouse with big ears and an even bigger appetite for adventure. He lives in Mouseworld beneath the far away kingdom of Dor. The citizens of Dor are happy and they love their soup. All is good until an unfortunate accident involving a rat named Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman) leads to the king decreeing that soup is banished from the kingdom. The sky turns grey but it never rains and people no longer have anything to smile about or look forward to. The kingdom might as well be deserted.
Meanwhile, Despereaux is trying to live the life of a good mouse, cowering and scurrying, but he has a fascination with danger and a heart full of courage. After failing to live up to his the standards of Mouseworld, he is banished to the unknown depths of Ratworld, from which no mouse has ever returned. Despereaux meets Roscuro and the two create a pact to help restore order to the kingdom by explaining that what Roscuro did was all an accident. Unfortunately, Roscuro is hurt by Princess Pea (Emma Watson) and he turns from good to bad.
The movie is full of wonderful adventures, terrific characters and some of the best voice acting in a long time. The entire cast is fantastic in their roles, especially William H. Macy as Lester, Desperaux’s father, and Christopher Lloyd as Hovis, the leader of the rats. Every actor gives such a wonderful performance that it seems each part was written for each actor individually. Sigourney Weaver as the narrator is also fantastic, giving us the basic set up and moving the story along almost imperceptibly.
The animation is simply magnificent; each world has its own flavor and feel. The kingdom of Dor is drab and practically colorless, while Mouseworld is full of light and activity. Ratworld is designed to look like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean, a refuge for criminals and thieves. In this case, it’s just rats. The animators have taken no shortcuts and have created a place beyond our imagining where the size of a world is relative to those who live in it.
The movie is all about the importance of forgiveness, but is never preachy or obvious. Despereaux shows us that there is nothing wrong with dreaming, and that no matter how small other people tell us we are, each one of us decides what we are capable of and what we can achieve. | Matthew F. Newlin