tek's rating: ¼

The Tale of Despereaux (G)
Framestore; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Universal; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: spoilers.

This is based on a book I haven't read. It came out in 2008, but I didn't see it until 2021. I'm afraid I was rather disappointed by it. The animation and acting were fine, and there was a bit of weirdness that I liked. The story was okay, I guess, but not something I managed to care a great deal about. The movie is narrated by Sigourney Weaver.

There's a rat named Roscuro (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) who comes to the kingdom of Dor with a human sailor friend of his, and ends up getting left behind when the ship leaves. Dor is famous for its soup, and has a special Soup Day once a year, and this happens to be that day. Roscuro is drawn to the kitchen of the soup chef named Andre (Kevin Kline), who is considered a genius at making soup. But he secretly gets some help from a fellow chef named Boldo (Stanley Tucci), who is made out of various foods and pots and stuff. (That was one of the weird bits that I liked.) Anyway, Roscuro tries to get a taste of the soup, and ends up falling into the soup bowl of the queen, who is apparently scared to death by this. (Seemed to me like an unbelievable overreaction, but whatevs.) In his grief, the king outlaws both soup and rats. Somehow this seems to affect the weather, which becomes cloudy and dismal, yet it never rains.

Sometime later, a particularly small mouse named Despereaux (Matthew Broderick) is born. As he grows up, he never shows any signs of fear, which is unacceptable to both his family and mouse society in general. One day he meets Princess Pea (Emma Watson), whom he befriends. He tells her about a story he'd been reading (he was meant to eat the book, not read it, but he was enthralled by the story). He promises to come back later and tell her how the story ends, but unfortunately, when the other mice learn he had spoken to a human, he's banished into the dungeon, where all the rats live. Despereaux is taken to an arena where a chained cat is sent out by the rats to eat him, but Roscuro asks Botticelli, the leader of the rats, to spare him. Despereaux later takes Roscuro to meet the princess, to whom he apologizes, but she's horrified by his presence (even though she had previously told Despereaux that she missed the rats, as well as soup and sunshine). This hardens Roscuro's heart, and he decides to get revenge on the princess, which he does with help from a servant named Miggeri (Tracey Ullman), who is jealous of Princess Pea, and wants to be a princess herself. They tie up Pea and take her to the dungeon, where the rats intend to eat her. But she's saved by Despereaux and a remorseful Roscuro.

Well, I'm leaving out a number of details, but that's basically the story. I wish I could have liked it more than I did. But I'm glad to have finally seen it.

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