I’m almost positive that there is a new animated family film coming out just about every weekend. The quality of the films, in my opinion, are pretty hit and miss. It seems like most are just sub par with a nugget of goodness being hidden every once in a while. I really wanted The Tale of Despereaux to be one of those films. Especially with such a stellar cast of voices like Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Kevin Kline, and Harry Potter’s female friend, Emma Watson.
The movie tells the story of “Despereaux, who is tiny and graced with oversized ears and born too big for his little world. Refusing to live his life cowering, he befriends a Princess named Pea and learns to read (rather than eat) books — reveling in stories of knights, dragons and fair maidens. Banished from Mouseworld for being more man than mouse, Despereaux is rescued by another outcast, Roscuro, who also wants to hear the tales. But when the Princess dismisses Roscuro’s friendship, he becomes the ultimate rat and plots revenge with fellow outsider Mig. After Pea is kidnapped, Despereaux discovers he is the only one who can rescue her…and that even the tiniest mouse can find the courage of a knight in shining armor.”
The film just never really gets going in my opinion. It just left me with this real bland taste in my mouth. It didn’t seem to challenge my mind or stand out as anything special. It was just there. Like a time-filler for parents who need someplace to take their kids to get them out of the house.
I can’t really pinpoint why I felt this way about The Tale of Despereaux. It had action. It was funny in all the right places. The main rat villain Botticelli, was actually pretty cool, with his cool Nosferatu-looking long-button coat and evil elongated kind of face. The voicing was even good. Something was just not clicking, though. One of the things that just seemed kind of out of place (which is probably in the book, so I don’t know how it could feel out of place in the movie) was the soup Genie named Boldo. I know that it seems like I’m just picking random things out of the air, but it was the only “magical” thing in the movie. My kids and wife liked it, so maybe it just isn’t for me.
Well, it’s like I always say. You win some… you lose more. It’s not like they’re going to stop making these things. I’ll just continue doing my job by trying to warn you about the ones that will make you feel like you’re being put through Chinese water torture.