Tale of Despereaux, The

MPAA Rating: G

Entertainment: +3

Content: +3

Voices: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Klein; narrated by Sigourney Weaver. Based on a book by Kate DiCamillo. Animated

SYNOPSIS: This “once upon a time” fairy tale has all the ingredients children love: a beautiful princess, adventure, danger, and villains overcome by the heroic deeds of a tiny mouse with big ears and even bigger heart. Despereaux (Matthew Broderick) is definitely not like any other mouse. Besides being ridiculed about his ears, he refuses to cower and insists on reading books instead of chewing on them. This upsets his teacher, parents and all of the citizens of “Mouseworld” deep inside a castle in the land of Dorr. When he admits to befriending the sad and lonely Princess Pea (Emily Watson), the renegade mouse is sent to the dungeon to live in Ratworld. There he befriends Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), a rat who, unlike most rats, loves the light and wants to escape. Despereaux gives hope to Mig (Tracey Ullman) a homely maid who dreams of being a princess. The comical antics of the king’s royal chef, Andre (Kevin Kline) add to the fun. Younger children may find 94 minutes is a long time to sit still, but The Tale of Despereaux is definitely family fare.

PREVIEW REVIEW: When questioned by the Mouseworld council, “Are you a man or mouse?”, Despereaux replies, “I am a gentleman.” He learns the attributes of a gentleman by reading the stories written on pages he was ordered to chew.

Although The Tale of Despereaux has no foul language, sexual references or strong violence, it does have quite a bit of darkness. Despereaux endures scary moments as a prisoner among hundreds of hungry rats, a terrifying cat tossing him about and many other dangerous events. The king wallows in his grief over the queen frightened to death by a rat jumping out of her bowl of soup; Princess Pea sits alone staring out a small window hoping to be rescued by a knight in shining armor. She is later kidnapped by her maid and the rats who drag her into the dungeon. But without these grim situations, there would be no need for Despereaux, the most unlikely knight imaginable, somewhat reminiscent of Jesus. Strong positive messages of the importance of truth, courage, hope and light can easily be tied to the real meaning of Christmas.

(Editor’s Note: Mary Draughon is back. A former reviewer for Preview, Ms. Draughon has kindly offered to assist me with reviews. She is taking the time in order to help me and this ministry. Her professional abilities and helpful heart are most appreciated.)

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Many times – Mild and moderate (mouse banished to dungeon, attacked by a hoard of rats, princess kidnapped and held in dungeon)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: Little mouse displays courage, strength and determination in face of cruel treatment and ridicule; lessons in importance of truth, reaching out to others

Running Time: 94 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.