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The Tale of Despereaux

Based on the bestselling children’s book by US author Kate DiCamillo, CGI animated adventure The Tale of Despereaux is the story of a plucky little mouse with unfeasibly large ears and a sense of chivalry to match.

Big-eared Despereaux (voiced by Matthew Broderick) isn’t like other mice. He doesn’t cower at the threat of danger, and he’d rather read a book than nibble its pages. So his timid fellows banish him from Mouseworld, thrusting him into a series of adventures involving an outcast rat named Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), dim-witted skullery maid Mig (Tracey Ullman) and the forlorn Princess Pea (Harry Potter star Emma Watson).

The Tale of Despereaux - Outcast rat Roscuro (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) gives Princess Pea (voiced by Emma Watson) a scare

With so many story threads to weave together, the makers of The Tale of Despereaux can’t help getting their plot in a tangle, but Sigourney Weaver’s delightfully wry narration prevents things from unravelling completely, even when Despereaux himself is displaced from the action for too long. Besides, the quality of the animation (created by London-based company Framestore) is ample compensation when the storyline sags, boasting as it does witty echoes of a colourful array of famous painters from Hieronymus Bosch and Bruegel to Vermeer.

Released 20th April

Read about the film’s playful tribute to the 16th-century Italian Mannerist painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

 

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.