The Tale of Despereaux
The bar has been raised so
much on animated films over the past couple of decades that something like
The Tale of Despereaux - despite the fact that it is somewhat
imaginative, has a great voice cast and has a rather unique visual style -
really doesn't quite cut muster. It's not bad by any means, but it's
also not very good, nor is it all that distinctive.
In fact, the storyline is
just a bit too much reminiscent of Ratatouille, a film which was much
more clever and well made. Despereaux adds more ingredients to
the broth, however instead of making it a more flavorful dish it just
overwhelms the delicate balance of tastes.
As this previous analogy
suggests, this film centers around rodents and a gourmet's palate.
There are not just rats in this film - mice (and people) are just as important
to the tale - however Despereaux repeats several of Ratatouille's
plot points about a rat who is intrigued by fine cuisine and refuses the
garbage and entrails that make up the dietary staples of his brethren.
Of course, the main rat
Roscuro (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) is not the lead character here.
That is a little mouse with huge ears named Desperaux (Matthew Broderick).
Despereaux is an outcast in his mouse colony because he is not afraid of
everything, is a gentleman and has a curiosity and wanderlust for the world
They all live in a world
which is famous for its soup. (That's right, you heard me, soup...
I couldn't make that up.) Every year, the most important day is when a
new type of soup is unveiled. When Roscuro inadvertently ruins the
annual soup day and the queen dies, the king outlaws both soup and rats.
The kingdom turns very dreary and sad.
The princess (Emma Watson)
longs for the old days of happiness, color and occasional rain.
Therefore Despereaux, being a courtly mouse, sets about fixing the rift and
returning the town to its original, happier state.
The most interesting thing
about The Tale of Despereaux is the animation style. The
characters and drawings have a Elizabethan European look. While the
animation in general may not be quite as good as many other computer
animated flicks, this interesting style lends interest to the visuals even
when it is not always technically perfect.
However the story, for all
its fairytale cuteness, moves a little too slowly and is a little too
unoriginal to wholeheartedly recommend Despereaux. The worlds
of the humans, mice and rats are interesting, but the story runs out of
steam long before it comes to an end.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: January 2, 2009.