December 18, 2008

The Tale of Despereaux

Introducing the better mousetrap

Grade: C –

Director: Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen

Starring the voices of: Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Sigourney Weaver, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, and Frank Langella

MPAA Rating: G

Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Featuring a storyline so convoluted yet humdrum it could have been written using an Etch-O-Sketch, a surfeit of celebrities phone in near-comatose voicework in the dreary, derivative animated film The Tale of Despereaux. A rat (Dustin Hoffman) with a love for fine cuisine (à la Ratatouille) is ignominiously chased down the sewer into a dystopic ratopolis (à la Flushed Away) after he startles a queen and causes a fatal heart attack. Meanwhile, an adventure-seeking misfit mouse (Matthew Broderick) gets banished to the recesses of Ratworld after breaking mouse law by cavorting with humans (Ratatouille again).

Toss in a fairy tale princess (Emma Watson), a royalty-mad handmaiden (Tracey Ullman), Sigourney Weaver’s flat narration, and rather lackluster animation, and you’ve got a somnolescent kids’ flick devoid of humor, rhythm, or charm – let’s just say that the character who, out of spite, kidnaps the princess so a horde of rats can eat her somehow ends up one of the story’s heroes.

Neil Morris

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