The Tale of Despereaux

A scene from The Tale of Despereaux
A scene from The Tale of Despereaux

What it's about:

Roscuro (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) is a travelling rat who lives aboard a sailing ship. One day his ship makes port at a kingdom famed for its soup, and he stays behind for the delicacies. He tries to sneak into the royal kitchen for some soup-tasting and inadvertently causes the queen to choke to death, causing the sorrow-filled king to ban both soup and rats from his kingdom. Roscuro is then forced to flee to the sewers below the palace. A little outsider mouse called Despereaux (Matthew Broderick) is also banished to the rat infested sewers for being un-mouse like and for talking to Princess Pea (Emma Watson) and a servant girl, Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman). Inexplicably, and agonisingly slowly, their destinies intertwine. Eventually Despereaux, saves the day and it ends predictably.

What we thought of it:

After recent gems like Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda, I was expecting this beautifully animated, star-studded affair to adhere to a fairly high standard, even if it didn’t match the year’s best animated movies in quality. Unfortunately, it fails miserably in every way, apart from the gorgeous graphics, and must be considered one of this year’s biggest flops. When will Hollywood realise that it takes more than a cute talking mouse with a big head to entertain children for 90 minutes?

With stars like Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Robbie Coltrane, Tracey Ullman, and Harry Potter alum Emma Watson, the quality of voice acting is high, but what is rather puzzling is the poor quality of the plot and the weak storyline. One has to wonder whether any of them actually read the script before they signed on to do the movie.

The story is dull and slow – sure, there are some action sequences, but they'd look laboured and poorly executed if they were shown on the Cartoon Network, and there is very little humour or punch in the dialogue. Even compared to most instantly forgettable animated kid's films, there is a lack of anything to make a child laugh, almost as if the producers were trying to make some big, serious point (that never comes).

The story itself doesn’t quite make sense, and even though things wrap up neatly at the end, there isn’t a clear moral or reason for anything that preceded it. Either Despereaux is trying to be needlessly obscure, or it is one of the worst written films ever made for children. At the end of the day, I think anyone looking for something attention grabbing is going to be very angry they paid money for this.

Even if you are stuck at a cinema that only had this movie showing, you’d have a better time eating your popcorn in the foyer - it is that bad. It has to be one of the dullest films I've seen in the last year, and the fact that it is aimed at a young audience makes that even more astounding. Tales of desperately old, tired crap would have been a better name, and even that is being kind.