The Tale of Despereaux
Universal Pictures
At the Quality 16 and Showcase

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Surprisingly charming and wonderfully told, “The Tale of Despereaux” is easily one of the best animated films of the year. The plot follows three characters whose individual stories intertwine to create a memorable adventure as they save the imaginary kingdom of Dor. There’s Despereaux (Matthew Broderick, “The Producers”), a mouse who defies the expectations of his cowardly kind and Miggery Sow (Emma Watson, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”), the delusional slave-girl who loses her identity in her obsession with royalty. Finally, there’s the rat Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman, “Last Chance Harvey”) who is banished because of a terrible misunderstanding.

“Despereaux” marvelously depicts weighty themes like courage, sacrifice and redemption in the manner that any simple children’s story should. Both adults and children alike can easily appreciate the film’s inspiring morals and brilliant storytelling.

The animation is beautiful, with heavy emphasis on contrasting colors. Vibrant reds and oranges shine as people celebrate a holiday in the streets, while the sewer of Rat World, to which Roscuro is banished, is appropriately dingy and dark. The only downside is that the film has a bit more dialogue than an animated film ideally should. Adults may not be bothered by the lengthy discussions, but “Despereaux” is primarily a children’s film, and kids may find their attentions drifting during these prolonged scenes. For the most part, though, the extra dialogue doesn’t detract from the “Despereaux” experience, and the movie remains fabulous for viewers of any age.

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