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The Tale of Despereaux

238 customer reviews

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The Tale of Despereaux + The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread + The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Once upon a time... in the far away kingdom of Dor... lived a brave and virtuous mouse with comically oversized ears who dreamt of becoming a knight. Banished from his home for having such lofty ambitions, Despereaux sets off on an amazing adventure with his good-hearted rat friend Roscuro, who leads him, at long last, on a very noble quest to rescue an endangered princess and save an entire kingdom from darkness. Based on the heartwarming children's bestselling book and featuring the voice talents of an all-star cast, The Tale of Despereaux is a magical, modern fairytale that's destined to win the hearts of young and old alike.


The Tale of Despereaux looks a little like Shrek. The storytelling and animation draw on everything from Ratatouille and classic fairytales to Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Indiana Jones, and, in its action sequences, even Bourne and Bond. But this movie stands on its own; too dark and violent for very young children, perhaps, but for the most part it’s exciting and funny, and it delivers a message about bravery and forgiveness that is relevant to us all. Voiced by Matthew Broderick, the title character is a little guy, even by mouse standards, with enormous ears and an imagination to match; much to the dismay of his elders, he "never cowers, won’t scurry, and refuses to be taught to be scared" (he’d much rather read a book than eat it, a pursuit that fills his head with visions of valiant knights, damsels in distress, and a life defined by "courage, honor, and decency"). That leads to his being banished from Mouseworld to the realm of the rats, where, it is presumed, he will be eaten. But no. Ratworld--a dark, chaotic, genuinely scary place--happens to be the current residence of one Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), a peaceful sort whose shenanigans in the human world have accidentally led to the death of the Queen, the imprisonment of the Princess (Emma Watson), and, worst of all, the banning of Soup Day (no small deal) and the end of soup itself! Roscuro and Despereaux join forces, inadvertently helped out by a homely but soft-hearted farm girl named Miggery Sow (Tracey Ullman), and, well, you can imagine how it all turns out. Directors Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen and scriptwriter Gary Ross (adapting Kate DiCamillo’s book) have concocted some vivid and interesting worlds for their film; the look is unusual, often washed out, muted, and bathed in hazy light; and the voice acting is excellent (others include William H. Macy, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, and Frank Langella). All in all, despite a conclusion that’s confusing even while it’s predictable, The Tale of Despereaux is a worthy addition to the crowded animation field. --Sam Graham

Printable Coloring Page, Map & Despereaux ears from The Tale of Despereaux (Click for full size)

Coloring Page


Despereaux Ears

Stills from The Tale of Despereaux (Click for larger image)

Special Features

  • Sneak Peek of Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey!
  • The Tale of The Tale of Despereaux: A (Mostly) Non-Fictional Making-Of
  • Top Ten Uses for Oversized Ears
  • Interactive Map of the Kingdom of Dor
  • Despereaux's Quest Game
  • Build-A-Boldo Game
  • DVD-ROM - Card Creator, Fairy Tale Fantasy, Coloring Pages, Wallpapers, Screensaver

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Matthew Broderick, Robbie Coltrane, Frances Conroy, Tony Hale, Ciaran Hinds
    • Directors: Sam Fell, Rob Stevenhagen
    • Writers: Gary Ross
    • Producers: Gary Ross, Allison Thomas
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Subtitles: French, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French, Spanish
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: G (General Audience)
    • Studio: Universal
    • DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
    • Run Time: 94 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B0018ATR2S
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,795 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Tale of Despereaux" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    39 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Mathew A. Shember VINE VOICE on December 20, 2008
    Format: Theatrical Release
    *Spoiler Alert. A request was made to add this for people who don't like to see storyline*

    My daughter wanted to see this film. Probably because the ads showed a cute mouse. We had never heard of this book so I can't judge the story.

    The qualities of the stories are simple. Mistakes, redemption, pure of heart, honor, etc.

    The movie opens with a ship heading to a city. On it is Roscuro the rat. Wearing cloths and an ear ring he looks forward for the famous Soup of the day of the kingdom of Dor. Wandering through the city he accidentally finds himself in the royal hall as the royal family are first to try the soup. Too entranced with the smell; Roscuro falls into the Queens soup and she is shocked to see a Rat, suffers a heart attack and dies. The guards chase him and he eventally falls into a drainage where he lands in Ratworld. There he is discovered by Botticelli who befriends him and decides to teach him the proper ways of being a Rat.

    The grieving king then declares no more soup and rats are outlawed and any who harbor them will be punished.

    Despereaux is born in mouseworld. He is not a typical mouse. Smaller then normal and he has over-sized ears. What's worst is that he doesn't cower, run, and he likes to take the cheese from mouse traps. His parents are called into school and told he is about to fail since he does not cower from knives and he draws pictures of cats. Even names one fluffy. The school master suggests that Despereaux follow his brother who graduated and was a proper mouse and could teach by example.

    They head off to the library where Despereaux is supposed to eat books but instead he starts reading them and learns about knights, honor and questing to save the fair princess.
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    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kwheeler on January 17, 2013
    Format: DVD
    The book was an absolutely DELIGHTFUL story. Charming, evocative, mysterious, fun, and cheerful for the most part. One of those stories that is just made for reading aloud, and which keeps the audience enthralled to the last word, and which provides a simultaneous sense of satisfaction mixed with disappointment when it ends. We read it together as a family, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. In fact, it is high on my list of Must Read books for children - oh, not very YOUNG children, because the story is too long for them, and requires connecting the dots between several story lines woven skillfully together. But 10 to 18 year olds - yes, even teens love this story. A lovely way to create bonds of shared memories for families with teens that they aren't sure how to connect with again.

    I wish the movie captured even a hint of the charm and delight of the book. But it does not. We bought it, in hopes that it would capture some of the essence of the story (in spite of hearing bad reviews). To our great disappointment, it failed in every respect. Other than the name, and a few shared names of characters, and the mention of soup, the movie bore no relation to the story in the book.

    The creators of the movie, from some misguided notion that they had to rewrite the story to capture the movie audience, managed to strip it of every defining characteristic, and to create a story that was not only devoid of any of the charm or enjoyment that the book possessed, but completely, and utterly uninspired and pathetic. It was a waste of money to even make such a travesty. Many other movie reviewers have agreed that the movie was on the low end of the scale.
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    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Zuffa VINE VOICE on March 11, 2009
    Format: DVD
    Cast (voices): Matthew Broderick, Distin Hoffman, Emma Waston, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Frank Langella, Sigourney Weaver
    Director: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen
    Running Length: 1:30
    MPAA Classification: G

    Despereaux (Broderick) is a mouse who is banished from Mouseworld for not acting like a mouse. He doesn't cower, he doesn't intentionally trip mousetraps, and he speaks to humans. In the human's world, he meets Princess Pea (Watson), and decides to go on a quest for her to restore sunlight to a dark and grey kingdom. He is assisted by the rat Roscuro (Hoffman), who had caused the problem in the first place. Meanwhile, Miggory Snow (Ullman), the princess's servant, is plotting to remove the princess and take her place.

    "Despereaux" has a more complex story than one might expect from G-rated fare, but it is not too much to alienate younger viewers. The storylines intersect well, and all come together in the end. The animation is good, but not Pixar quality. That is a small complaint, and Pixar is in a league of their own anyway. The voice talent is made up of many big names, and Broderick, Hoffman, and Watson are all excellent. This is an entertaining family film that can be enjoyed by all.
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    23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Karen Joan VINE VOICE on April 20, 2009
    Format: DVD
    How do I describe THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX? On the one hand, it's got top-notch animation, wonderful voice acting, and interesting characters. On the other hand, it has a few too many characters, grown-up themes, and requires the viewer's rapt attention. On the gripping hand, it's just not for little ones. To be clear, it's fine for young ones to watch, it just seems that they are not the film's intended audience. This is odd since it LOOKS like it's a kid's show. It was advertised as a kid's show. But my 4-year-old only watched when Despereaux himself was on the screen, and my 11-year-old spent most of the movie telling me how different it was from the book. My husband and I liked it, but we all agreed it was simply "OK."

    THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX is actually a couple of tales, starting with the story of a sea-faring rat named Roscuro who loves soup. Through a horrible twist of fate, Roscuro's presence results in the queen's death (death by soup, believe it or not) and the banning of soup and rats from the kingdom. I had to wonder why no one had thought to banish the rats before but eh. Roscuro ends up in the dungeon where only the rats hang out. The second story is about Despereaux the mouse. We decided that Despereaux must be Flemish for "Dumbo" since that's pretty much who this mouse looks like. He can even fly with his giant ears. Despereaux is literally fearless and as such is banished from mousedom for fear of the other meeses learning his bad traits. Guess where he's banished to. That's right, the rat dungeon. Another story is about a peasant girl who dreams of being a princess. Apparently, this was toned way down from the novel, in that the girl's owner only sneers at her and doesn't beat her in the movie. We see how she is sold to the king's cook along with a herd of pigs.
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