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The Tale of Despereaux
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Tale of Despereaux More at IMDbPro »

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79 out of 98 people found the following review useful:

Good message, better visuals, best vocal work!

7/10
Author: Joseph Smith from United States
22 December 2008

Still wondering about the reviews above that insult this film's animation. I thought it looked terrific. (For the record, nearly every professional critic I could find singled out the film's strong visuals.) The character differentiation is very strong in the mice & rats -- and all that tender-loving detail in Ratworld and Mouseworld! You'd have to watch the movie 6 times to pick out all the tiny man-made objects the rodents have used for furniture, clothing, etc.

I see also several reviewers' concerns about the film's "darkness." Ummm . . . don't we find Hans Christian Andersen a bit dark too? Isn't there something about kids being baked in an oven? And doesn't someone's father die in "Lion King"? And a certain famous mother in that deer movie . . . ? For the matter of that, fans of DiCamillo's Newbery-winning book can tell that her version is a lot darker -- heart-breaking at times. At least one critic has scolded the film version for toning down the darkness, which concomitantly weakens DiCamillo's message of forgiveness and redemption.

AND: I don't think I've ever heard vocal work this good in an animated film. They're not big box-office names that will draw tons of kids to the picture, but real pros -- Hoffman, Ullman, Hinds, Watson, and that narration by Sigourney!! -- who bring an amazing richness and authenticity to the characterizations.

Plus, any movie that so convincingly counsels little kids to say "I'm sorry" -- well, even if it had no other merits, it's hard to argue with a message like that!

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25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

A Charming story

8/10
Author: valleyjohn from United Kingdom
1 January 2009

After waking up with my usual January the 1st mother of all hangovers i wondered how i would manage to grab some recovery time in the form of some extra shut eye later on in the day? Bingo! why not take the family to the cinema? I great place to catch forty winks , or so i thought. Little did i know i would find a kids film that was so good , sleep was the last thing on my mind.

A long time ago, in the distant kingdom of Dor, A horrible accident broke the heart of the king, left a beautiful princess crestfallen, and filled the townspeople with despair. As the sun disappeared from the sky and the flowers were drained of color, the laughter slowly ceased in this once-magical land. It was into this darkened world that a tiny mouse named Despereaux Tilling was born, and while this virtuous little rodent may have been short in stature, his bravery was ultimately too big for such a small world to contain. An unlikely hero with over-sized ears and a discernible wheeze, Despereaux was taken with tales of chivalry, and longed to one day become a noble figure among his people. Sometimes in order to realize their true destiny, heroes must first experience great hardship, however, and when Despereaux fails to adhere to the rigid rules of his society, he is banished from Dor

I don't review Children's films very often . Maybe that's because they are on all the time in my house and i don't really take a great deal of notice of them.

To be honest i didn't even know of The Tale of Despereaux until i checked the listings but I'm glad i did.

This is a magical production that has a mesmerising story , some delightful characters and animation of the highest quality. It reminded me a little of some of the fairy tale books i used to read as a kid. The narration by Sigourney Weaver was perfect. It helped my children understand exactly what was going on when there was two or three sub plots going on.

The Characters voices are performed by Dustin Hoffman , Emma Watson , William H Macey , Tracy Ullman , Kevin Kline and Matthew Broderick but to be honest i only recognised the voices of Hoffman and Watson during the film.

It does make you wonder why studios pay massive wages to big film stars when a lot cheaper alternative could be used.

If you stuck for something to do before the kids go back to school next week you wont go far wrong if you take them to see The Tale of Despereaux .

Without a doubt this is the best film i have see this year......and its also the first!

8 out of 10

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26 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

An interesting watch, something out of the ordinary

9/10
Author: Domantas from Lithuania
20 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't say I was expecting much before going to this film: I hadn't heard anything about it prior entering the cinema, and the fact that it was an animation didn't appeal to me. I went to see it just because my little sister wanted to watch it very much, so I really didn't have much choice.

Firstly, the colours and the overall atmosphere of the movie was something unusual. The film can be divided into three parts: happy beginning, dismal middle, and of course, the happy ending. The feel and atmosphere of every part is enhanced by the change of colours: bright, warm colours dominate the beginning and the end of the animation, while faded and cold colours dominate the middle.

Secondly, I enjoyed how three different types of society were reflected. The first and most apparent would be the Kingdom of Dor, suffering from an incompetent ruler who puts his emotions first, while the interests of the kingdom are second. The second type would be the Ratworld, a consumerist, primitive society, which is ruled on the basis of "the leader is he who provides food and entertainment". The last type is the Mouseworld, a society governed by fear of rule-breaking, emphasising the importance of "fitting-in".

Although I liked the middle part of the movie (the gloomy one), I was wondering, if it was appropriate for children, as it brought up such issues as revenge, abolishment of one's principles, treachery. I doubt if kids can make the correct interpretations (or conclusions), so explaining or talking to them after the movie would be reasonable.

The ending was typical of fairy tales: everyone (except for the bad guys) is fine and lives happily ever after (?).

In all, the movie exceeded my expectations. The moral issues brought up, the atmosphere, the unusual development of the story, the happy ending- everything was delivered in a nice way, the only thing that made the movie lose a star (9/10) is the doubt that children would fully understand it.

In all, in all, a nice watch :)

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28 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic Film. Superb Story-telling.

10/10
Author: Melaus from Australia
3 May 2009

I loved this film. Definitely the best film of the year in my opinion. It's full of inspiration. The film was written after the novel by Kate DiCamillo of the same name as the film. The novel won the 2003 Newbery Medal. I have just started listening to the audio book of the novel and it starts off just as inspiring.

Although it is a children's fantasy film it has a whole lot for the adults. One of my favorite films to date. Fantastic, next to Peaceful Warrior.

Not sure about the other comments on here, I guess we have to live with them. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did, because I really loved it and so did everyone I spoke to that's seen it. With an all-star cast this movie truly stands out. Don't miss this one!

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54 out of 93 people found the following review useful:

Qualities and flaws

4/10
Author: Mihnea the Pitbull from Romania
19 January 2009

The qualities:

- Superb graphics, expressive, beautiful and stylish;

- Solid characters, both intrinsically and visually;

- A compelling atmosphere, and mood in general.

The flaws:

- A chaotic script, confusing and unprofessional. They were too ambitious to keep as much as possible of the novel's sub-plots and secondary characters, but didn't know how to organize them according to the screen-writing rules.

- A linear direction: everything flows on too uniformly, the important scenes are not accented and developed enough. As such, it gradually becomes boring, and during the culminating moments it's positively anticlimactic.

- The disadvantageous comparison with "Oblio". That one had spark! This one is also smart, but less inspired.

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42 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Disappointing, to say the least

4/10
Author: Russell Campbell from United States
4 January 2009

This was a movie that was "just there." I remember being doubtful about Ratatouille. After all, rats and food? Didn't sound like the best combo, but Ratatouille grabs you and pulls you in. Not Despereaux. I was waiting for it to happen, but I was sorely disappointed. The plot was meandering and had no drive to it. I think I chuckled at one thing during the movie, but mostly it was devoid of humor. My kids may have laughed once, too. They didn't leave with the normal "can we get that on DVD" questions. You're waiting for something to happen, for something to peak your interest, for a little heart palpitation, a little humor, an interesting plot twist. It's just not there. One person called the movie a "hack job" on the book. I can't speak to that, since I did not read the book, but I hope - for the author's sake, at least - that the book was better. I'd recommend that you wait to rent this movie. Your kids may like it, but I doubt they will find it as good as Ratatouille, Cars, Shrek, or some of the other quality kids films, so don't waste your money in the theater. For a $5 rental, it's OK. But for the big bucks they charge at the theater, no way!

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Lovely, kind-hearted film that doesn't pander

8/10
Author: ldarroch from Canada
18 January 2009

I'd be hard pressed to name a kid's flick I've seen in the last four years that can't be summed up by "a quest to find his true self." For once, the hero knows who he is, and lives by this truth rather than learning to define himself along the journey. It was refreshing to see a slightly less-linear film aimed at the under-10 crowd. There were at least 3-4 narratives to follow (mouse, rat, servant girl, and to a lesser extent, the royal family). The notion that one's actions and attitude can greatly affect those around you, in unexpected ways with surprising consequences, was a lovely lesson to learn, rather than the rote "value of friendship" moral. I don't quite get the Ratatouille comparisons, frankly. OK, the heroes are both rodents. And there is a chef. This film reminded me more of Big Fish, The Princess Bride, and Pushing Daisies with its small themes and seemingly meandering narrative, that all comes nicely at the end. And yes, the film was utterly beautiful.

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28 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Sublime! Not a Hollywood cookie cutter.

10/10
Author: trint from United States
26 December 2008

I understand the less than stellar reviews from some. This movie is not Toy Story or Madagascar. Don't expect to see Buzz Lightyear kitsch, or Shrek fart-jokes. It is a fairy tale of the finest sort.

I am a long time fan of CGI animation, since the days before Pixar was a household name (and I do love Toy Story). The artistry and technical achievements in this film leave me speechless. The characters emoted better than many live-action films. (They did seem to cut a couple of corners on non-critical characters. The cat was pretty bad by comparison, but it's only in two scenes.) The feel is very literary, as it should be. And you get the feeling they made some sacrifices to get the book to the screen. (Don't they always?) The film makes me want to read the book and see what I missed. Still, the story stands well on it's own.

The voice talent (What a star packed cast!!) was held in check allowing the story to shine through. You don't find yourself thinking, "Hey, it's Robin Williams!" or "Hey, it's Mike Meyers!" (Thank God!) Instead, you enjoy the characters and only momentarily think, "I know that voice." It may be too cerebral (read "old skool") for some of today's iPod, Dragon Ball Z, Nintendo DS, 24/7 non-stop stimulation generation, but it's exactly the kind of story they need.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful film is more like reading a really good meaty book that you want to curl up with and lose yourself in

9/10
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
26 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Okay we applauded at the end and I got teary at times.

I have no idea when I last saw an animated film this complex made in the US. I mean that in a good way. I also have to wonder when was the last time I saw a real meaty fairy tale on screen, Strings perhaps (oh what a great double feature that will be) How the heck do I explain this simply? I have no idea. Perhaps by saying this is the story of a mouse named Despereaux who isn't afraid of anything, who reads the stories of a knights and chivalry and takes an oath to be a gentlemen, who helps a princess trapped in a castle and a kingdom caught in gloom.

One of the most beautiful animated films, possibly the best looking computer animated film yet with a lush scheme that makes it look like various paintings by people like Vermeer. At other times this is the equivalent of book illustrations come to life. As good as the trailers look the film itself is even better. If you love art (both fine and animated, see this film since the film references numerous works.

For the most part this is a beautifully adapted film that is like curling up with a good book.Where recent films like City of Ember or Twilight or even the Harry Potter films have links to their source novels that make them less then stand alone movies, this film takes the book and puts it on the screen and doesn't dumb it down or make it so you need to have read the book. You have real fleshed out characters of surprising complexity (What is a character like Dustin Hoffman's doing in a film that is "for children?" I don't care frankly because its wonderful). These are not one note sketches but living breathing people. It doesn't rush things, this is a film that takes its time telling the story and requires you actually pay attention. Despereaux doesn't show up for at least fifteen minutes as we get a long run up of why things are the way they are.Its wonderful since it beautifully lays out the world we are walking through. Its a real fairy tale movie that is much more complex than anything that Disney has been churning out, or even Pixar with the film juggling several story lines- Despereaux,Roscuro(Hoffman), the maid, the Princess- all at the same time all seeming to get an equal amount of weight to their telling. It wonderful.

Unfortunately the film has one flaw that keeps it from being perfect.(This is a POTENTIAL SPOILER so you may not want to read this bit) There is a moment or two after the meeting of Roscuro and the Princess when the climax of the film is set in motion when it felt like something was left out. How does all of the villainy transpire? Its not fully clear and on some level I couldn't completely go with it to the next level. Its like coming to a canyon and you have to bridge it, but you suddenly find yourself on the other side without knowing how you got there. its the sort of thing that made the almost 10 out of ten film closer to 8 out of 10. (END OF SPOILER) Yes I really liked it. Yes I think you should see it, especially if you like really good fairy tales or stories that are not simple or simplistic. Its a wonderful movie.

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21 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

scary, depressing, unengaging and all over the place

4/10
Author: larcenydogood from United States
2 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Desperaux is a poorly conceived film, or, more to the point, three poorly conceived films rolled into one. Much too ambitious/confusing.

First movie, a happy kingdom is about to celebrate their wondrous Soup Day. Among the happy throngs ready to eat are a sailor and his happy rat, Roscuro. Roscuro is so enthralled by the amazing soup that he sneaks into the castle for a closer glimpse and falls into the bowl from which none other than the queen herself is eating. This causes her to faint into her soup and suffer a quiet unnoticed death (No one thought the queen may need to breathe through all that soup?), so that her husband will become a near-catatonic depressive who spends his days in semi-darkness plucking away lachrymose tunes on a lute that sound like funeral music composed by Jethro Tull. He also bans rats and soup. Which drives away curiously, both the sun and rain.

Next movie, Desperaux is born in an unused castle room-village of neurotic mice who seem as though they are all candidates for the Dr. Phil hall of fame. Desperaux is an adventurous mouse, which I suppose makes him a republican in a Hollywood allegorical, and this goes against the grain of angst that permeates his community and he therefore is eventually banished to the dungeons, where the rats, who have their colony in the darkness, will certainly eat him. Guess which rat outcast saves him.

In the last of the three movies an angry dungeonkeepr yells at the comely wench who serves the princess. This servant girl, Miggery, has delusions of being the princess that manifest physically and is so anthropomorphic in reverse that any pigs watching the film would surely gasp, "Golly, it's scary how swine-like they made her." Then there's gladiatorial combat amongst the freaky looking rats, the princess is kidnapped and almost eaten by thousands of evil-looking rats, the mouse saves the kingdom and brings rain (see The Rainmaker, Dune, The Day After Tomorrow, et cetera). He also brings back the sun. And the soup. And we must assume, world peace and reduced carbon emissions.

The whole thing is so convoluted, the characters, especially the dungeonkeeper and the maid, oh and the lugubrious king, and the rat who caused all the problems then tried to kill the princess then had a life-altering moment (apparently he got access to some of the mice's Dr. Phil literature) are hard to care for, there is no emotional charge other than "Jeez, those are nasty rats", which are much too scary for little children, there's a ridiculous Quixotic-kamikaze man whose body is entirely vegetative (I suppose it would be difficult to have a Quixotic-kamikaze man whose body is entirely vegetative not be ridiculous), there is no humor other than laughing at Desperaux's ears (one is left pining for the "wit" of Shrek's bodily evacuations) and it is way too violent to be a kids' movie which it was marketed as. The whole movie comes across like the king, cleverly drawn but emotionally barren.

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