Mr. Movie

'The Tale of Despereaux' this holiday's family pick

So far this holiday season is woefully lacking in films for the smallest members of the family.

You won’t see much improvement between now and the end of the year. The only offering available is The Tale of Despereaux.

Fortunately it’s a good one.

Despereaux is a fearless little mouse with Dumbo-sized ears and heart to match. He’s the main character in a complicated fairytale mixing a mythical magical kingdom with mice, rats, a king, a beautiful princess, a wanna-be princess, depression and a legendary soup.

The story based on Kate DiCamillo’s book has more energy than her other film adaptation, Because of Winn-Dixie and pushes values such as loyalty, honor, courage and conviction in the form of a charming swashbuckling little mouse.

Matthew Broderick voices Despereaux and Dustin Hoffman does the rat that causes the film’s crisis. The rest of the vocal talent pool is as deep as the plot. Check out this Hollywood who’s who list: Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Robbie Coltrane, Frank Langella, Christopher Lloyd and a few others.

All that’s missing is John Ratzenberger. He was probably busy with the new Toy Story and next spring’s Up.

The Tale of Despereaux is anchored by a wonderful piece of narration by Sigourney Weaver.

These days, unique characters with multi-dimensional personalities and the most complex movie relationships are found in animated features. Perception says these things are aimed at children, but I suspect producers secretly push adult themes to get parents to take the kids and not wait for the DVD.

Don’t wait for the DVD on this one.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars

Rated G. It opens Dec. 19 at the Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.