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10 April 2009
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The Tale Of Despereaux (U)

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Review byMatthew Turner17/12/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

The Tale of Despereaux's heart is in the right place, but the script is messy and unfocussed, the animation is dull and uninspired, the characters are boring and the film manages to completely waste the talents of its fantastic cast.

What's it all about?
Based on the best-selling book by Kate DiCamillo, this animated fable centres on Despereaux Tilling (voiced by Matthew Broderick), a tiny, brave, big-eared mouse who hungers for adventure. Banished from Mouseworld for breaking the rules, refusing to be frightened and talking to a human, Despereaux finds himself in the Kingdom of Dor, where he falls in love with the beautiful Princess Pea (Emma Watson).

However, the Princess is desperately sad, because the Kingdom of Dor has been plunged into a permanent state of darkness and grief, following the recent death of its queen in a soup-based accident. In order to restore Dor to its glory days of sunshine and delicious soup, Despereaux journeys to Ratworld, where he befriends banished rat Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), but when evil rat Botticelli (Ciaran Hinds) kidnaps the Princess, Despereaux calls upon every ounce of bravery to rescue her.

The Good
The relatively short running time is a definite point in the film's favour, but it actually feels like two hours, even though it's only 93 minutes. Similarly, the filmmakers have assembled an amazing line-up of vocal talent, but you'll struggle to pick out any of them except Broderick, Hoffman, Watson and Hines (Hines is easily the stand-out and is the only one who seems to be enjoying himself, as the sinister, vaguely Dracula-esque Botticelli).

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the script is messy and unfocussed – Despereaux isn't even born for about 20 minutes or so and his quest is never clearly defined. In addition, the dialogue is dull (there's hardly any humour in the film) and the animation is both boring and uninspired throughout.

Worth seeing?
There's really no point in seeing The Tale of Despereaux at all when you could just as easily watch the far superior Ratatouille again instead.

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The Tale Of Despereaux (U)
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