A courageous tiny mouse saves a princess. Matthew Broderick is the voice of the lead character in this animation film, called Despereaux. From the day he is born, Despereaux is different than the other mice. He has really big ears so he hears better than the others. He is smarter and most of all he is courageous. Being courageous is not a desirable attribute in a mouse. Despereaux's parents do everything they can to make him fearful, which is how mice are supped to act. In school, they teach the mice children to cower when they are shown drawings of dangerous things, like a chopping knife or a cat. However; Despereaux does not cower when he is supposed to and this gets him in trouble with his teacher at school. The mice all live in Mouseland, which is their safe abode below the castle.
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A few years before, the people of the kingdom where celebrating their favorite holiday called "Soup Day" by sharing a special soup prepared specifically for the annual feast. A rat name Roscuro (with the voice of Dustin Hoffman) came on a ship, which sailed into harbor on that special day. Roscuro loves soup, so he made his way to the feast, and climbed up on the table just when the Queen was about to take a sip from the first bowl of soup. He slipped and fell into the soup bowl. When the Queen found a rat in her soup, the shock was so great, she died on the spot. The King went into a rage, banning all rats from the Kingdom and proclaimed those caught with a rat will be severely punished. Roscuro had to take refuge with all the other rats in the deep dark area below the dungeon of the castle. The King also banned soup of any kind. The King went into a deep depression over the loss of his Queen. Dark clouds came over the kingdom and stayed there without raining. The King now spends his days playing a sad song on the lute. The Princess (with the voice of Emma Watson) stays in her room, hoping for the day when happiness will return to the kingdom.
In order to teach Despereaux how to be properly fearful, he is sent on a mission to the castle with instructions to follow his brother and to do as his brother does. Despereaux does not pay attention to anything his silly brother says. When they go to the library Despereaux reads the books instead of eating the pages as his brother told him to do. He reads a story about a sad princess who is saved by a handsome knight because of his honesty, courage, and honor. Despereaux finds the real Princess Pea alone and sad in her room. He speaks to her. He tells her he is a gentleman of honor and he will save her. She is delighted to have the company of the little mouse. When Despereaux gets back to Mouseland, the other mice learn he has spoken with the Princess which is the most serious violation of the mouse law. Because of his crime, he is banished. Despereaux is lowered on a piece of thread down the deep well to the depths of the castle's dungeon and below to Ratland.
The evil leader of Ratland, named Botticelli (with the voice of Ciaran Hinds), tries to make the rat Roscuro evil too. However, Roscuro only thinks of the happier times he had in the past when he sailed on the ship. Despereaux is caught by the rats. Despereaux is taken prisoner for being an intruder. The rats have a coliseum where they torture prisoners with a cat kept on a chain as part of a spectacle. Despereaux is put in the center of the coliseum and the cat is released. Despereaux is cornered by the cat and about to be killed, when Roscuro asks Botticelli if Roscuro may have the mouse. Roscuro lies by telling Botticelli he wants to eat Despereaux. Botticelli grants Roscuro's request because eating the mouse is definitely evil. Roscuro takes Despereaux home to supposedly eat him. They become friends instead. Despereaux tells him about the Princess and how sad she is. Roscuro wants to make amends because he knows it is all his fault. Roscuro goes to the chambers of the Princess to apologize to her in person. She is frightened when she sees him and tries to kill him. Roscuro turns angry over the attack and tricks a simple-minded servant girl named Miggery Sow (with the voice of Tracey Ullman) to help him capture the Princess, which they do. Then Roscuro tricks Miggery by locking her in the dungeon and brings the Princess to the rats. The rats keep the Princess tied up to make a spectacle with her in the coliseum.
Despereaux learns the Princess has been taken to the dungeon. Despereaux tries to get the King to help but the King is too lost in grief to pay him any attention. Despereaux tries also to get the other mice to help, but they are fearful of him since they thought he was dead. Despereaux decides to save the Princess himself. He does get some help from a strange Vegetable Man who normally works with the Chef in the kitchen. The Chef decides, on his own, to make a soup because he cannot stand the lack of it anymore. The making of the soup causes the rain to fall, and then afterwards the sky to clear. When Despereaux sees the Princess tied up by the rats, he fights all of them to free her. Despereaux is about to be killed when the sun starts shining down through cracks in the ceiling. The causes the rats to hide their eyes from the light. Botticelli tries to kill Despereaux. Roscuro turns a mirror towards him, shining the light on his face, to blind Botticelli. Botticelli falls into the arena and is quickly caught by the cat. Despereaux frees the Princess and saves the kingdom for a happy ending.
Best part of story, including ending:
It is interesting that the Kingdom of people, Mouseland, and Ratland all have distinct ruling classes, their own laws, and ways of governance.
Best scene in story:
I like the scene, in the library, when Despereaux first discovers books. It is charming when he walks across the pages, reading the text as he walks, to find his inspiration.
Opinion about the main character:
I like the tiny little mouse with the courage of a giant, because he does not recognize his size as a limitation.