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The Tale of Despereaux

Reviewed by Lori Fox

"Most of it was entertaining, parts of it were hilarious. But the choppy scene transitions, and the generally icky feeling through Miggory Sow's storyline kept the movie from being truly enjoyable for me."

The Tale of Despereaux is a story about a very un-mouse-like mouse, a very un-rat-like rat, a princess, and a castle servant who wishes to be a princess.

Sound confusing? It is.

The basic story of The Tale of Despereaux, the movie, is how a happy, friendly rat fell so in love with soup that he actually fell into the soup. Most unfortunately, the soup happened to be served to the queen, who consequently died of fright, causing the mourning king to ban soup and rats from his kingdom. As the narrator says, a hero isn't born until a hero is needed. In this case, the hero was Despereaux.

I have mixed feelings on The Tale of Despereaux. The beginning was a bit slow, and the scene where Roscuro the rat falls into the queen's soup was over the top. OK, the part where the chef's vegetables come to life and argue with him over the soup's seasonings was a over the top, too. However, Roscuro was quite likable, in that rough, Harrison Ford kind of way.

Once Despereaux is born, the movie picks up. The anxiety of the parents over Despereaux' not cowering, and the nervous placation of the doctor that “he will” cracked us up. Jokes about cowering, scurrying, and, heaven forbid, the cat that Despereaux drew on his schoolbook (and named it “fluffy”), kept the scenes with Despereaux in them hopping. In fact, as long as Despereaux or Roscuro was in the scene, my husband and I were enthralled, either sucked into the story, or laughing at the jokes.

The problem we found with The Tale of Despereaux, is that the movie is based on a novel that consists of four separate books. One of which is based on Roscuro, one is based on Despereaux, and one is based on the servant girl, Miggory Sow, with the fourth tying all three together for the climax. Unfortunately, translating the four stories into one movie was not done well.

Individual scenes were strong, but the transitions were harsh, and had no natural pattern. The narration between most scenes served more as a distraction than as a help. In movies, even more so than books, the rule should be show don't tell. Roscuro's change from good, to bad, to good again were abrupt, with no natural progressions shown, and the narration only pointing out what is obvious.

Several scenes were simply bizarre, and since I've not read the books, I can't say whether they're accurate to the story or not. Most of it was entertaining, parts of it were hilarious. But the choppy scene transitions, and the generally icky feeling through Miggory Sow's storyline kept the movie from being truly enjoyable for me.

Despite my mixed feelings on The Tale of Despereaux, I don't regret having watched it. I'm not certain I would watch it again, given some of the scenes that I would speed through, but I do think that it's worth at least one watch.

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Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.