"Valor in the Face of Danger"
What You Need To Know:
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.
(BBB, CC, L, VV, M) Very strong moral worldview with implicit Christian content and explicit references to being a chivalrous mouse who honors courage, honor, truth, and all the Christian virtues; two light profanities; lots of cartoon action violence, some that may be too scary for young children, including rats threaten to eat mouse, rats put mouse in coliseum to fight a giant cat, princess taken to coliseum to be eaten by rats, mouse sticks needle in the foot, lots of swordfights, and kings guard’s bash each other with swords and axes trying to get mouse, some scary falls down dungeon stairs and deep wells; no sex; no nudity; no drinking; no smoking; and, kidnapping and queen dies when she sees a rat in her soup.
DESPEREAUX is an exciting tale of truth, honor, courage filled with danger and jeopardy.
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!