New York Times - 12/19/2008
"It begins as all fairy tales should, with a narrator recounting the story of the pastel-hued Kingdom of Dor....Pleasantly immersive, beautifully animated..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 12/17/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "[B]eautifully drawn...rendered in enchanting detail and painterly colors....It is a joy to look at frame by frame..."
Entertainment Weekly - 01/01/2009
"[T]his CG adventure looks like an illuminated manuscript brought to life. The screen glows with Renaissance golds..."
Empire - 02/01/2009 3 stars out of 5 -- "A heartwarming tale of a little mouse that could, DESPEREAUX is a cross between DUMBO and THE PRINCESS BRIDE."
Hollywood Reporter - 12/15/2009
"[T]he artfully rendered CG animation is quite lovely..."
Universal Pictures crafts a whimsical tale of courage using some truly stunning CGI animation in THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX. Based on the award-winning book of the same name, the film features some all-star voice work from the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Dustin Hoffman, and Matthew Broderick. The story begins in the European city of Dor, a picturesque town know for its amazing soup. When the soup-obsessed rat Roscuro (Hoffman) accidentally brings about a tragedy in the royal kingdom, the Dor King falls into mourning, both soup and rats are banned, and the skies turn to gray. Roscuro soon finds himself living in the dank darkness of a place called Rat World. Nearby, in Mouse World, we finally meet our hero, Despereaux (Broderick). Despereaux is an unusually small mouse with some rather over-sized dreams. Despite his small stature, he longs to live a bold and exciting life, and he chafes at the dictums of Mouse World--where mice are taught to live quietly in fear. When Despereaux goes so far as to befriend the human Princess Pea (Emma Watson), he is booted from Mouse World down into the miseries of Rat World. There he meets Roscuro, and together the two decide to carry out their own individual quests and right what has been wronged. While Roscuro soon finds himself going astray, Despereaux sticks to his guns--or rather, his sewing-needle sword--and he fights to bring joy and freedom back to the city of Dor.
The film remains pretty faithful to the book, although it does trim down some of the quirkier aspects of the novel. Yet the story is still refreshingly dark in places, and is reminiscent of such classic tales as THE SECRET OF NIMH and WATERSHIP DOWN--smart cartoons that were always about much more than mere cuddly talking animals.