Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Movie Review: The Tale of Desperaux


This light-weight kiddy fare is based on a book I have never heard of, but according to my young cousins is very popular. Being the cool older cousin that I am, I took them to see a movie over the holidays and they insisted that it be this. I didn't know much about the film, and knew it wouldn't but up my alley, but they ruled the roost that day. So I sat there, waiting for it to be over before it even started, and then caught huge glimmers of hope when the cast list ran before the movie began. Just to show you what I mean, here is a partial list of stars: Matthew Broderick, Sigourney Weaver, Tracey Ullman, Frank Langella, William H. Macy, Emma Watson, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Llyod, and Dustin Hoffman. WOW! I love almost all of them, it can't be that bad I thought.

And I was right, this is actually a very charming and wonderful childrens movie. It has its problems, but overall I enjoyed it very much. It is the story of the tiny tiny underdeveloped mouse Desperaux, who is short in mouse terms yet has huge mouse ears. One of the films biggest flaws is that it doesnt even introduce us to the title character until about 30 minutes in, which I found odd. At first we follow Roscuro (a rat played effectively by Dustin Hoffman) who is unlike many rats in that he is sweet and loves the light. Basically the story is this, there a mythical city called Door which is the home to Soup Day (much like Christmas but instead of gift giving the towns chef cooks a new soup every year and it is tasted by the King and Queen and then enjoyed by the citizens). On this particular Soup Day Roscuro the rat falls into the Queens soup and she dies. Therefore the king bans soup, rain, sunlight, and fun. And most of all he bans rats, oh he also locks up his daughter the princess in her room. Meanwhile Desperaux is born and is unlike all mice. He is not afraid of anything, in fact he is quite bold. And as a story would have it, he is the key to freeing the princess and allowing the town to drink soup again and be merry. There is also an evil rat king (Frank Langella), a castle maid who longs to be a princess (the wonderful Tracey Ullman), and other random characters. As you can see a lot goes on -- maybe too much.

The biggest problem with this tiny movie is that its running time is almost 2 hours long - no kid can handle that much at once. However that aside, its quite fun! The animation isn't all computer graphics, which I enjoyed (dont you miss the old timey things like drawings they used to use when I was a kid). The voice talent is top knotch, and it is never boring. Although there's way to much going on for one movie, it is still a cute and clever story, and the narrator is Sigourney Weaver -- could you ask for much more. If you have kids, they will like it, and you won't hate your life for having to sit through it. (And its much better than the Spirit)

*** out of *****

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