Starring: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson
Directed by: Sam Fell (“Flushed Away”) and Robert Stevenhagen (debut)
Written by: Will McRobb (“Alvin and the Chipmunks”),Chris Viscardi (“Alvin and the Chipmunks”) and Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit”)
Don’t let the title fool you. “The Tale of Despereaux” is really only a third of what this Universal Studios animation is all about. Along with a little mouse named Despereaux (Matthew Broderick), screenwriters Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi and Gary Ross, make a mess of the narrative by adding layers upon layers of unimportant characters and situations.
The primary story itself isn’t all to interesting either. Despereaux, a small rodent who fears nothing, is banished from Mouse World because of his courageousness and ends up befriending Princess Pea (Emma Watson). There is also a confusing story about a rat named Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman) who accidently kills the queen during an event called Soup Day and later teams up with Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman), a lowly castle servant who looks like a computer-generated character from the movie “Gummo.”
Based on a Newberry Award-winning children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, not much of anything make sense in “Despereaux” and by the time you understand how everything is linked there’s really no reason to care. It’s not the worst animation of the year (watch “Fly Me to the Moon” and you’ll see why) but with gems like “WALL-E” and “Kung Fu Panda” already out on video, there’s no reason to see this dopey little tale about a mouse with Dumbo-like ears. “Despereaux” will make a cute plush toy, but as an animated feature it’s unlikable.