Saturday, March 28, 2009
The Tale of Despereaux
2008 adaptation of the Newberry Award Winning children's book, brought to the screen by Sam Fell (British director of other kid's flicks like Flushed Away) and Robert Stevenhagen. Ok, just to have a quick geek aside, this is Stevenhagen's directorial debut and I couldn't be happier to see it because this guy was a primary animator on so many things I loved as a kid, whether it was the Asterix movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, An American Tail or the TV show Count Duckula. Alright, back to the movie at hand. Despereaux is a movie about fear and how fear keeps us from experiencing so many of the wonderful things life has to offer. Be it fear of starting over, fear that nothing will change, fear of going against the status quo or the fear that comes with guilt. Whatever kind it is, fear is almost always a prison of our own design, construction and maintenance. Key players in this story learn this when a little mouse is born that seems to have been born without a natural instinct towards fear. He's no nihilist, his lack of fear is buttressed by a sense of duty towards what is chivalrous and honorable. When he sees people in need or things worth pursuing, he simply goes for it, no hesitation. He's an unlikely animal to possess these qualities as he's not just a mouse but one that's small even by mouse standards. The movie is interestingly animated, full of engaging characters and tells a compelling story in a compelling manner. It's simple and heartfelt and has a message we all could get a dose of at least once a day. We need more people like this little mouse. Plus with a cast that includes Stanley Tucci, William H Macy, Kevin Kline, Tracy Ullman, Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Christopher Lloyd, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Jenkins, Frank Langella, Sigourney Weaver and Tony Hale, it can't be too bad, right? Count Duckula was good and all, but this, I must say, is better.