Over the last three years there have been three movies about rats. The first came out in 2006 and was the forgettable Flushed Away. In 2007, Pixar took on the same animals and gave us one of their finest movies with Ratatouille. 2008 gave us a movie based on a popular children’s book that was not as bad as the former, but definitely not as good as the latter. This movie was The Tale of Despereaux.
The movie takes place in a far away kingdom that is known for its delicious soup and the day when they celebrate it. One one such day, a ship docked that carried a sailor and his pet rat. Things happen, and the king ends up making rats illegal. Then we are told the story of Despereaux, a mouse that unlike other mice is very brave. Then some other things happened and he gets banned to ratworld, where. At this point a cleaning lady that wants to be a princess, a guard that had to give away his daughter, and the princess get involved, and there is an action packed finale.
The first and third acts of the movie are great. However, the second one drags on and on. It doesn’t help that they have an all-star cast and they announced them during the opening credits. During the second act I was trying to guess who Ciaran Hinds, Richard Jenkins, and Dustin Hoffman were voicing. The animation was also distracting. I wasn’t expecting Pixar quality animation, but I still can’t believe that after all these years, Toy Story has better animation than non-Pixar and non-Dreamworks movies.
There is one thing that saves it from the hell of failed animated movies. The character design is among the best I’ve seen. The designs are imaginative without seeming outer worldly. I would have loved it if the movie had been made by Pixar. Ultimately, The Tale of Despereaux is not worth recommending but I would not stop anyone from watching it.