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Tale of Despereaux, The


Stars: Voices: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin Kline, Frank Langella, Christopher Lloyd, William H Macy, Tracey Ullman, Charles Shaughnessy, Stanley Tucci; Narrator: Sigourney Weaver

Director: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen

This pleasant if hardly groundbreaking CGI-animated feature should satisfy undemanding youngsters who like enjoy fairy tales spiced with animal antics.

While the best line - “There’s a rat in my soup!” spoken by the Queen before passing away and plunging the kingdom into grief-ridden misery - recalls Ratatouille and some of the rodent-driven comedy echoes Flushed Away, the tall tale of brave big-eared 'Mousketeer’ Despereaux, who boldly goes to the rescue of kidnapped Princess Pea after she has been swiped by rotten rodents led by slimy George Sanders sound-alike Botticelli and his horde, is lively and funny if largely unmemorable.

Our Mini-Mouse Hero shares screen time with renegade rodent Roscuro, a ship’s rat who comes on shore, and is drawn into trouble by Botticelli, while the human storyline is mostly carried by mourning King, ugly maid Miggery Sow (silly name, sad character) and Princess Pea.

The animation is fine and the vocal casting apt – Broderick as Despereaux, Harry Potter escapee Watson as the Princess, Hinds sneering up a storm as the wicked Botticelli and, best of all, Hoffman, who brings Roscuro to memorable life, while Weaver is perfect as the narrator. And if there’s a distinct aura of deja vu to the show, that’s perfectly understandable - but it shouldn’t cause kids to reject these rip-roaring rodents.

Alan Frank

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
93 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Dec 2008