Daily Archives: December 27, 2008

Off Topic: With an F-R-E-D Fred!

Only because it came to me. This entry has nothing to do with Once Upon a Mattress. Though, the whole princess and castle bit still applies. I reviewed The Tale of Despereaux (Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen, 200eight) for FilmThreat.

The review is now up. Here is an excerpt:

Trailers for “Despereaux” focus heavily, if not exclusively, on the title character. Knowing virtually nothing about the film’s story other than the inclusion of a mouse that doesn’t behave as a scaredy-mouse should, I wasn’t exactly ready for an entire secondary storyline involving a rat. One might as well re-name the animated work from “The Tale of Despereaux” to “A Tale of Two Rodents: When Despereaux Met Roscuro.” Being comprised of parallel plots is all well and dandy, but Roscuro’s circumstances and the wrongs he wishes to right are more captivating (and even more heartfelt) than Despereaux’s. The mouse might be assigned the ‘Hero’s Journey’ a la Joseph Campbell in speech and mannerisms, but Roscuro gets an equal slice of that fairy tale pie.

If the “Tale of Two Rodents” angle isn’t enough for I-didn’t-see-that-in-the-previews effect, there’s also a servant girl and a dungeon’s guard that figure prominently in the narrative fabric. From the viewer’s vantage point, Despereaux and Roscuro’s adventures—along with those of the humans—sufficiently convey the lessons of how being afraid is crippling and being kind is ultimately rewarding. There’s no need for a narrator to stick the moral value to us, right? Not quite. Voiced by Sigourney Weaver, the narrator’s tone alternates between being self-aware and facetious to being stern and critical (of the sincerity behind the words she’s speaking). The idea that not all fear is instinctual, and that being different—even to the point of abnormal—is fine…on the condition that one’s differences make one successfully brave and generous would have gotten across without a voice-over. At twenty-seven years of age, I certainly could not ignore the blatant selling of “don’t hate or be afraid of people you don’t like”—I don’t think I would’ve missed the point if I were seven years-old either.

Read the rest of the review here.

And the refrain in my head after I left the movie theatre:

I say, Despereaux, why can’t you come to your senses? So persistent that chivalry still exists now?

Sinister rat and Roscuro.

Princess Pea and Despereaux.

Newborn Despereaux, how cute is he? Yeah, and only for fifteen seconds. He grows up in the next shot.

Click here for more pictures.