The Tale of Despereaux
Charming animated adventure story about a chivalrous mouse (voice of Matthew Broderick) who is banished to a rat-filled tunnel for fearlessly befriending a distressed human princess (voice of Emma Watson), contrary to the timid customs of his society, and gains the protection of a globe-trotting rat (voice of Dustin Hoffman) with gourmet tastes, who also dreams of derring-do. Though somewhat overloaded with multiple plot lines, co-directors Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen's painterly adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's 2003 best-selling, Newbery Medal-winning children's novel is delightfully innocent and idealistic as it celebrates its hero's sense of honor and love of reading and charts his companion's discovery of the power of forgiveness. A-I -- general patronage. (G) 2008
The Tale of Despereaux (Full Review)
Those who fear that chivalry is dead will be reassured by "The Tale of Despereaux" (Universal/Relativity), a charming animated adventure about a mouse (voice of Matthew Broderick) with outsized ears, a strict code of honor and a taste for derring-do.
Far from winning him the admiration of his peers, however, Despereaux's knightly aspirations set him apart in the miniature society of Mouseworld, where matches serve as streetlamps and an overturned dresser becomes a multiple-family dwelling. Fearful conformity reigns in Mouseworld, and Despereaux's refusal to toe the line by learning to cower worries his parents (voices of William H. Macy and Frances Conroy) and his principal (voice of Richard Jenkins).
Mouseworld is nestled within the walls of the royal castle of Dor, a once-happy human kingdom plunged into mourning by the untimely death of its queen. As her widowed father continually broods over his loss, playing melancholy tunes on his lute, Dor's Princess Pea (voice of Emma Watson) longs for the return of sunnier times.
With his native pluck reinforced by his reading of a courtly romance in the castle library -- the film sends a strong message about the enjoyment to be derived from books -- Despereaux sallies forth and discovers the forlorn princess, whom he immediately pledges to assist. This flagrant violation of rodent timidity results in Despereaux's banishment to the dark and squalid tunnel known as Ratworld.
There, in the only scene that might frighten very young viewers, he's pitted against a fearsome cat in the rats' version of Roman gladiatorial games. But Roscuro (voice of Dustin Hoffman), a globe-trotting rat with gourmet tastes and a fondness for light that make him, like Despereaux, an outsider, intervenes and takes the vulnerable mouse -- whose adventurous spirit he shares -- under his protection.
Though somewhat overloaded with multiple plot lines -- Roscuro was unintentionally involved in the queen's death and there's a further series of complications involving a downtrodden farm girl named Miggery Sow (voice of Tracey Ullman) who yearns to be a princess -- "The Tale of Despereaux" is delightfully innocent and idealistic, with objectionable material of any kind entirely absent.
Co-directors Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen's painterly adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's 2003 best-selling, Newbery Medal-winning children's novel celebrates its hero's courageous openness while it also charts Roscuro's discovery of the power of forgiveness. Spiritually sound and aesthetically accomplished, "The Tale of Despereaux" can be recommended for all.The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. All ages admitted.
These movies have been evaluated for artistic merit and moral suitability by the media reviewing division of Catholic News Service. The reviews include the CNS rating, the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and a brief synopsis of the movie.
The classifications are as follows:
A-I -- general patronage;
A-II -- adults and adolescents;
A-III -- adults;
L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. L replaces the previous classification, A-IV.
O -- morally offensive.
Note: Some movies previously were designated A-IV. Older films with this classification should be regarded as classified L.