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:: The Tale of Despereaux

Gone are the days when a children’s movie could involve weak animation, no-name actors doing the voiceovers and a story so childish it was guaranteed to put any adult audience member into a deep coma. ‘The Tales Of Despereaux’ goes far and above any animated family flick that we have seen for a long while and is undoubtedly the best animated flick of 2008.

Based on the children’s book by Kate DiCamillo ,‘The Tales Of Despereaux’ is in fact three stories woven into one. It tells the story of a rat named Roscuro (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) who becomes separated from his owner in a city that is world famous for its soup. While in search of this soup Roscuro accidentally falls into the Queen’s soup and she dies from a heart attack. In anger the King bans soup and rats from his Kingdom and as a result his kingdom befalls a cloudy darkness with no rain, something that deeply upsets Princess Pea (Emma Watson). Roscuro escapes the Guards and hides out in the dungeon below which is ruled by the evil rats.

Meanwhile a young mouse called Despereaux has trouble fitting into Mouse Town. Not only is he smaller and has larger ears than the other mice, but he knows no fear. This leads him to making friends with Princess Pea and reading books rather than eating them, two things that has him banished from Mouse Town and sent to the dungeons where he meets Roscuro. Roscuro and Despereaux’s paths soon cross with Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman) a young maid who wishes she was Princess, and whose jealousy puts the Princess’s life at risk.

The story seems complicated but actually flows together quite well. There are some weaknesses though; we don’t actually get to meet Despereax for a fair while into the film and the Vegetable Man character is never properly explained. But these are minor gripes about a film that actually works sensationally well.

The animation is top notch, if you were okay with what you saw in ‘Shrek’ then you can more than handle the animation here. And in the same way ‘Shrek’ entertained children and adults alike, adults will find themselves thoroughly enjoying this film that reminds you of the Grimm Brothers style of fairytales… it even has a moral that the kid’s will go away remembering.

One of the warmest films of the year and clearly wins the title of ‘Animated Film of 2008’, this will go down as a classic that families will be watching for generations to come.