A little mouse becomes a big hero in this modern fairy tale.
Filled with images of soup and, uh, rodents, this beautifully animated fantasy can’t help but be compared to Ratatouille, to which it, unfortunately, just doesn't measure up. In theory, the movie-–which is based on the Newbery medal-winning children's book by Kate DiCamillo--should be appropriate for kids of all ages but it's surprisingly dark for very young viewers. Its saving grace is tiny Despereaux himself, who with his Dumbo-sized ears, is impossible to resist.
This movie is intended for older children.
Although even young preschoolers will be attracted to Despereaux, they may be frightened when the queen dies suddenly of a heart attack and when the rats put a cat into an arena ring to fight--or, rather, eat--the little mouse. Five-year-olds will be enthralled when the princess asks Despereaux if he is a mouse, and he replies, bowing, "I am a gentleman."
Kids will admire Despereaux, who is considered a disgrace to his family because "he doesn't scurry or cower." They'll appreciate his courage, his risky drawing of a cat on his notebook and the fact that "in his own mind, Despereaux was a giant."
Many older kids will find the narrator a bit preachy, and may roll their eyes when she describes Despereaux as a "brave little mouse who loved honor and justice, and always told the truth." Tweens on the younger end may think about the ideas that when people get hurt, they often hurt someone else, and that a single act of forgiveness can change everything.
Segments on the making of the movie and the "Top Ten Uses for Oversized Ears," plus an interactive map of the Kingdom of Dor and two games in which children can use their remote controls to help Despereaux rebuild Boldo and overcome obstacles to deliver the gold necklace to the king.