THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX
Valor in the Face of Danger
Release Date: December 19, 2008
Starring: The Voices of Matthew
Broderick, Emma Watson, Tracey
Ullman, Dustin Hoffman, Frank
Langella, Tony Hale, Frances
Conroy, Kevin Kline,
Christopher Lloyd, Robbie
Coltrane, Sigourney Weaver,
Bronson Pinchot, and Stanley
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/General
Director: Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen
Executive Producer: Robin Bissell, William
Sargent, Ryan Kavanaugh, and
Producer: Gary Ross and Allioson Thomas
Writer: Gary Ross
Address Comments To:Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman/CEO
Jeff Zucker, President/CEO
Ron Meyer, President/COO
Marc Shmuger, Chairman
David Linde, Co-Chairman
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
It opens with a rat named Roscuro who, unlike other rats, not only likes the light but also talks. Roscuro is sailing into the port of the Kingdom of Dor with his seaman friend. The port is famous for its soup. On soup day each year, the chef prepares a special soup. He gives it to the queen to taste, but Roscuro, tempted by the smell of the soup, falls into the soup. The queen screams, gets a heart attack and dies. The king and the princess are devastated. Dark clouds cover the land, but there is no rain.
Meanwhile, under the castle, in the mouse village, a strange little mouse called Despereaux is born. He is too short, his ears are too big, and he has no fear. He believes he is a gentleman and adopts a code of honor. Truth, justice, loyalty and all the other Christian virtues make up his code, which he frequently repeats.
After every mouse fails to teach Despereaux to be afraid, to cower and to be a mouse, the mayor banishes him to the dungeon to be eaten by the rats. In Ratville, he is taken to the coliseum to be fed to the giant cat. Roscuro rescues him.
Despereaux finds his way up to the castle and befriends Princess Pea. A serving maid wants to become princess. She binds the princess and takes her to be eaten by the rats in the dungeon. Can Despereaux save the princess? Can soup be restored to the land? Will, courage, honor, and justice triumph over ignominy? Eventually, will forgiveness reign over revenge and bitterness?
DESPEREAUX is a very exciting, compelling movie with good animation. That said, the screening was filled with little children, some of whom were very uncomfortable with the scary parts. There is a real fear that Despereaux will be eaten by the cats or the rats.
There are also a couple of inconsistent, jumping plot points. Roscuro changes from a good rat to a villain and back again with very little motivation. And, there is magic, although it is never explained or extolled. In fact, the chef has an incantation that causes the vegetables to come alive.
All that said, this is a very moral movie that extols the cardinal virtues. It overtly teaches honor and truth and justice and forgiveness. For that reason, it is recommended for older children, but please explain to them that you don’t need a book of incantations to make a good bowl of soup!
DESPEREAUX is an exciting, compelling movie. There are, however, moments that may scare young children and some references to magic that are not explained. That said, this is a very moral movie for older children and above that overtly teaches honor, truth, justice, and forgiveness.