5 reasons I’m psyched for ‘The Tale of Despereaux’

All this weekend! 5 movies I’m psyched for in December and 5 reasons why. No. 1: The Tale of Despereaux [opens in the U.S. and the U.K. on December 19].
1. He’s a cute little mouse with big ears, and he’s wielding a sewing needle as a sword. How adorable is that? (Actually, the first few times I glimpsed the poster for the film in the subway, I thought he was a cute little mouse with big ears wielding a magic wand, which would have been even unbearably adorable. But a sewing needle as a sword is perfectly acceptable as charming small-animal endearingness goes, too.)

2. It’s based on a children’s book, called, appropriately enough, The Tale of Despereaux [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon U.K.], by Kate DiCamillo (which bears the adorable subtitle “Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread”). This is good because I’ve long felt that most of the best fantasy — and certainly most of the best fantasy illustration — is happening in children’s books these days. And while the film appears not to be aping the illos in the actual book, the animation does have an illustrative quality that I love: though it’s obviously CGI, it still looks a bit like the first big animated movie to be drawn with colored pencils.

3. Director Sam Fell’s last movie was Flushed Away; his codirector, Robert Stevenhagen, is making his directorial debut here, but he has worked previously as an animator on such movie movies as Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That’s a lot of experience in the cute-furry-small-rodential-type creatures department, as well as the snarky-but-sweet-humor department, which bodes well for Despereaux.

4. Plot point: The adorable mouse? He reads. Books. Amazing.

5. Holy crap, that voice cast! Emma Watson, Dustin Hoffman, Frank Langella, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Lloyd, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Ciarán Hinds, Tracey Ullman, James Nesbitt. Oh yes, and Matthew Broderick as Despereaux. Adorable.

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