I must admit, I'm not very impressed by talking animals in the first place so The Tale of Despereaux has a thick wall it has to penetrate on me. It did not change my predisposition against talking animal movies, or talking food for that matter.
Review: The Tale of Despereaux
So a queen dies by rat tainted soup? I guess that's what the kids are into these days. So the rats get banned, a mouse ends up in rat world and a farm girl infiltrates the kingdom so they can all bring soup back to the world. A land without soup, is that even whimsical?
The cliché is that mice are cowards and Despereaux is not… just because he's not. I'm all for bucking social norms but I'm getting sick of the movie about it. Maybe there is a clever film to be made about the benefits of complying and getting by.
Or maybe it's just that the learned helplessness is so obvious. I know it's for kids, but you don't have to hold their hands and say, "This is how we're teaching people to be scared, and you know you shouldn't be scared, so here's one character who doesn't learn to be scared and he shows scared people it's okay not to be scared."
It's not much of an adventure. They just revel in mouse world or rat world. All they do is run around and talk about the story and themes. There's a gladiator-esque arena in rat world but it still feels very interior. They payoff the mousetrap set up but it's not much of a quest.
It's just not cute enough. The animation is good. They put lots of detail in environmental surfaces, and the fur and fuzz of the characters. The paper style storybook visions are cool. I just didn't think they were cute, even with their shiny noses.