More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 4%
Worth A Look60%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 32%
Total Crap: 4%

3 reviews, 7 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Exhibition (1975) by Charles Tatum

D2: The Mighty Ducks by Jaycie

By the Sea by Jay Seaver

Our Times by Jay Seaver

Caffeine by Jaycie

Hunger Games, The: Mockingjay- Part 2 by Jay Seaver

Night Before, The by Peter Sobczynski

Dangerous Men (2005) by Peter Sobczynski

Secret in their Eyes, The (2015) by Peter Sobczynski

Journey Through Time with Anthony, A by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Tale of Despereaux, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by David Cornelius

"Sweet, exciting, and lovely."
4 stars

There is a certain gentleness in “The Tale of Despereaux,” a grand sweetness we’ve long been missing in our animated films, Pixar notwithstanding. This movie is light and warm and almost effortlessly delicate, avoiding smug self-awareness and desperate pop culture comedy in favor of honest-to-goodness fairy tale earnestness.

And as a fairy tale, shamelessly old fashioned in every respect, it is also at times unexpectedly dark. Not in a way that is inappropriate for its target audience - in fact, it’s in a way that respects the imagination and maturity of young viewers. There is grave danger to be found here, and inescapable sadness, too, but in ways that only make the hero’s triumphs all the more rewarding.

The film is adapted from Kate DiCamillo’s book; the screenplay (by Gary Ross, with an assist from Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi) adds quite a bit to an already busy story, and all that excess repeatedly threatens to turn to clutter, although we’re never overwhelmed with it all. The plot involves: a curious, brave mouse named Despereaux (voiced with innocent glee by Matthew Broderick), who wants to be a knight; Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), the rat banished to a dark underworld; the lonesome Princess Pea (Emma Watson); her maiden, Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman); a chef (Kevin Kline); a spirit (Stanley Tucci) made of vegetables; and a kingdom where soup and rats have been banished forever, following a great tragedy involving both.

That’s quite a bit for any film, let alone a family one. There are times the story goes off on one tangent too many, some of Ross’ upgrades to DiCamillo’s original tale are unnecessary, and at least one key plot turn comes all too sudden, as if the film suddenly decided it needed to pick up its leisurely pace. But we often don’t mind, as all the distractions and side adventures are enchanting, while Sigourney Weaver’s soothing narration creates an effective bridge between the elements.

More important in the movie’s success is how the animators create an intricate universe for our characters. Each of the three “worlds” of the story - the human kingdom, with its castle and village; the quaint Mouseworld, modest and lovely; the horrid Ratworld, a sort of villain’s paradise, scarred by darkness - is a complex creation. You can get lost for hours studying the corners of every frame of this film, both in the elegant animation (there’s an absolute beauty to just about everything here) and the whimsical designs (how smart to place, say, the mouse school within hollowed-out books).

There is a scene early in the movie that follows the inner mechanics of a giant soup-making machine. Later, Despereaux discovers the library, and the thrilling escape of a good book. Then we meet the Threadmaster, a blind rodent providing a link between the mouse and rat worlds. And there is the story of Mig, and how she got to the castle, and how she will eventually leave.

And on, and on. The filmmakers pack all of these asides, and many, many more, with a magical sense of fairy tale wonder. “Despereaux” is the cinematic equivalent of a cozy bedtime story, warmly told with loving care.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/29/09 19:21:38
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/22/09 Perdunok Hello Perdunky! 5 stars
2/01/09 Ming a very interesting fable.I enjoy watch it 4 stars
1/09/09 Samantha Pruitt looks good, story is kind of creepy and not really kid orientated. 2 stars
1/03/09 Pete V. Character design and art direction were terrific. Too bad the rest of the film wasn't! 2 stars
12/29/08 Ry Surpisingly good! 4 stars
12/29/08 tom we took our son,shame on the new york times for giving movie a good review 1 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  19-Dec-2008 (G)
  DVD: 07-Apr-2009


  DVD: 07-Apr-2009

[trailer] Trailer

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2014, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast