Starring: Matthew Broderick, Emma Watson, Dustin Hoffman, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciarán Hinds, Robbie Coltrane, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Jenkins, Frank Langella
Directed by: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen
Written By: Kate DiCamillo (book), Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi (screen story), Gary Ross (writer)
Rating: G (US) Running Time: 1 hr 33 min
With the seemingly endless list of notable names in the voice cast, you’d be forgiven for getting your hopes up about The Tale of Despereaux. Alas, it’s a tale that never really takes off. For starters, we don’t even meet the title character until after the 17 minute mark. In the remaining 76 minutes of the film, we’re asked to follow several slow story lines. Despereaux the mouse (Matthew Broderick) and Roscuro the rat (Dustin Hoffman) separately clash against the fear based doctrine of their respective societies. Miggery Sow (Tracy Ullman) is a maid that dreams of being a princess. All pretty familiar story lines, which have been told separately with much greater success. I’m mainly thinking of Dumbo, Ratatouille, and Cinderella.
All these story elements did not combine well. When one story line seemed to be picking up pace, the movie cuts away to catch up with another. In the end I started to wonder why this film wasn’t called The Tale of Familiar Fairy Tales.
Keep your expectations low, and you may find some elements of this enjoyable. Even though is based on a children’s book, I think some sections might be a little to intense for very young kids.
There are sections of the film that are beautifully crafted, and look amazing. The design and animation of the animal characters looked great too. I can’t say the same for the human characters though. They looked a little less defined to me. A HD viewing at home is still recommended.
Worst element for me:
That opening 17 minutes was a complete waste of valuable time. It introduces us to Roscuro, and then partially sets the stage for the rest of the story. All this could have been done just as effectively in less than half the time.