Despereaux a Beautiful Mess

Too many subplots in Mouse's tale
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2008 3:20 PM CST

(Newser) The Tale of Despereaux is a beautiful movie. It looks “like an illuminated manuscript come to life,” writes Adam Markovitz in Entertainment Weekly, its visuals obviously inspired by Flemish artists. “Too bad the story’s such a mess.” At the heart of the story is the titular heroic mouse (ably voiced by Matthew Broderick), but it’s weighed down by so many subplots that, says Roger Ebert, it “threatens to make Gormenghast seem straightforward.”

Despereaux’s own story gets crowded out by Roscuro, a Dustin Hoffman-voiced, food-loving rodent, whose parallel plot to taste a new soup “gives the movie a whiff of leftover Ratatouille,” says Markovitz. “It's a movie that simply has too much of everything,” concludes John Anderson in the Washington Post, “except a storytelling technique that grabs kids and makes them forget they have to go to the bathroom.”