The Tale of Despereaux

Release Date: December 19, 2008

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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Hey! Dinner and a toothpick!

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82/196 Max Braden Nice to look at but the story didn't seem focussed enough, or maybe just too meandering a pace.

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“Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread” - This is the subtitle of the novel, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. This description alludes to the status and/or obsessions of a series of four characters whose disparate stories are all enjoined. The popular children’s book is being turned into an animated movie by Universal Pictures. And this clever tale of misfits overcoming conventional standards to become the very thing everyone told them couldn’t be should prove to be a delight for outcasts of all ages.

The primary character in this movie is Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is born with a couple of strange conditions. It seems that the little tyke has unnaturally large ears, making him the rodent equivalent of Dumbo. He also makes his fellow mice uncomfortable when he opens his eyes much sooner than his race is prone to do. Alienated by his quirks, his people banish him to the rat-infested dungeons. During this journey, Despereaux encounters a human princess named Pea, and he falls desperately in love with her. The fact that they are of different species and that she is of royal descent is irrelevant in this storybook tale of opposites (creepily) attracting.

The other two main characters in the story are Chiaroscuro, a rat, and Miggery Sow, an obtuse human girl. Chiaroscuro is an outcast because he prefers light to darkness, an odd lifestyle choice to be sure for a rat. Miggery’s problem is that she is a peasant girl who dreams of being a princess. Given that she has been beaten to the point of having cauliflower ears and that she is never going to be described as the brains of any bunch, royalty is an unlikely scenario. Then again, fate is about to cast her lot in with that of a princess, so…

The animated tale is narrated by Sigourney Weaver, whom you might remember from Ghostbusters or approximately 17 Alien movies. Ferris Bueller himself, Matthew Broderick, provides the voice of Despereaux while Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame handles Princess Pea. Also onboard are Dustin Hoffman, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Robbie Coltraine, Christopher Lloyd, Ciaran Hinds, and William H. Macy. Needless to say, the voice talent on this project is superlative. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Tale of Despereaux
Main Cast Matthew Broderick, Robbie Coltrane, Frances Conroy
Supporting Cast Tony Hale, Ciaran Hinds, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Frank Langella, Christopher Lloyd, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Tracey Ullman, Emma Watson, Sigourney Weaver
Director Sam Fell
Screenwriter Gary Ross, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi
Distributor Universal
Screen Count 3,104
Awards Awards page for The Tale of Despereaux
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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