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The Tale of Despereaux

A fractured fairy tale in too many pieces



Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen's animated family adventure-comedy is about a soup-loving kingdom where order is disrupted -- and then restored -- by various rodents. First, a visiting rat named Roscuro (voice of Dustin Hoffman) lands -- literally -- in the soup, with far-reaching consequences. To the rescue comes Despereaux, a plucky mouse (voiced by Matthew Broderick). The story, with several other subplots, seems a little complicated for the under-10 set this film is aimed at, and it doesn't find its groove for nearly an hour. It also suffers from having too many protagonists, including a couple who are hard to root for: There's a pretty princess (awww), a heroic little mouse (yay), a grungy rat (ewww) and an ugly, doltish servant girl (I want to do the right thing, but am put off by her resemblance to a cranky pig). The animation is well done, but a shorter, more streamlined story -- plus a more coherent policy on rodents -- would have helped.

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