More open-ended is a question posed by the story’s narrator, who asks, “What happens when you make something illegal that is just part of the natural world?” Older children may wonder how this question relates to things like drugs and sexuality, so parents should be prepared to discuss those issues should they come up. But the film’s target audience is probably a bit too young to make such connections.

The film also raises questions about why a creature of darkness would literally be drawn to the light, and about what it means to be honorable, chivalrous, and gentlemanly. It also demonstrates the liberating power of forgiveness offered and received. (The narrator’s late comment suggesting that the events in the film might have been attributable to “good luck” is unfortunate and works against what the story suggests up until that point.)

The Tale of Despereaux is fitfully delightful, and should satisfy most family audiences. It’s not a perfect movie, and it departs from DiCamillo’s book in some important ways. But overall, the story’s power translates well enough for the movie to be recommended.


Questions?  Concerns?  Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@verizon.net.

CAUTIONS:

  • Smoking/Drinking:  None.
  • Language/Profanity:  None.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None.
  • Violence:  Knights try to kill rats; a cat attacks Despereaux, and some rodents; in Ratworld, a rat floats along a river in what appears to be a human skull; a tale featuring a dragon comes to life as Despereaux reads the words on the page; knights engage in swordplay; Despereaux is thrown against a wall; a chef’s foot is pierced as a way of getting his attention; a rat falls from a height and, unseen, is devoured by a cat.