Latest animated mouse story is a beautiful fairytale, but might not delight parents

2009-01-04 00:00

OVER the years, animators have created wonderful mouse heroes and heroines — there was the brave widow, Mrs Jonathan Brisby, in The Secret of Nimh, and Bernard and Bianca in Disney’s The Rescuers.

Joining them is an adorable little mouse called Despereaux Tilling, who proves that being tiny is no impediment when you’re brave and honourable and are blessed with bags of courage.

Despereaux is the hero of the latest animated film to hit our screens, The Tale of Despereaux, based on the book of the same name, written by Kate Dicamillo.

Set in the land of Dor, which is filled with magic, laughter and gallons of soup, the film tells the story of Despereaux, who, from the day of his birth, proves to be rather different to his fellow mice — he won’t scurry and he won’t cower in fear. Instead he dreams of being a knight in shining armour, reads books rather than eating them and, most shocking of all, speaks to the kingdom’s first daughter, Princess Pea. As a result he’s banished from Mouseworld and sent to the dark, dungeon realm of the rats.

Here he meets Roscuro, a rat who was also banished to Ratworld after he accidentally killed the princess’ mother, the Queen of Dor. His actions have left the king bereft and the kingdom stuck in mourning. The weather is dull and grey, it never rains and its princess wishes only for a return to the light, happy world she once knew.

Roscuro tries to make amends, but when the princess refuses to hear him out, he vows revenge.

Then Princess Pea is kidnapped and only Despereaux can save the day.

The film is stunning to look at and has an amazing voice cast — Despereaux is voiced by Matthew Broderick, Princess Pea by Emma Watson (Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series), Roscuro by Dustin Hoffman, and the royal chef, Andre, by Kevin Kline — but despite its charm, it’s not in the same league as films like Finding Nemo, Toy Story or Shrek. Adults may find it tedious to sit through as there is none of the humour found in those films.

Still, if you’re looking for a way to keep the children entertained, you could do much worse than head to the cinema to see The Tale of Despereaux.

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