All parent member reviews for The Tale of Despereaux

Parents say

(out of 34 reviews)
age 6+
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Parent of a 4 year old Written bychez_geek March 13, 2011

Good movie for older kid but totally off for K or pre-K

I think this movie (which is otherwise very good) is really off for the pre-K/K set and iffy for 1st-2nd grade. The site review implies that the only issue is some cat/mouse scariness, but in fact the whole movie is, as the BBFC rating says, "tonally dark". The site review says that a minor character dies early on; in fact this character is the princess's mother, the incident of her death is revisited throughout the film, and the human characters grieve deeply for her. Adding to how upsetting this event is, the movie does not provide an obvious cause, which can give the impression to a young kid that their mother can just drop dead. The mouse (Deveraux) is banished to the dungeon for breaking a rule (talking to a human) that was not specifically articulated to him; the expectation is that he will be eaten by the rats (so it is de facto a death sentence). His parents just sit helplessly watching this, crying in their hankies but doing nothing to interfere. A rat which is a "good" character for most of the movie does something truly awful; a peasant girl quite delusional (i mean mental-illness delusional, not just has fancy ideas); the villain is definitely not played for laughs; there are "gladiatorial" scenes were victims have to fight for their lives; etc. This is a good movie for kids that are able to handle dark material, and raises some very good issues about the complexity of human behaviour and especially grief. It is good watching for adults, but approach it carefully and be prepared to spend a lot of time discussing it. Frankly, because of the persistent dark tone, I wouldn't even have rated it G, I think it is a PG emotionally even though it lacks a lot of the "tickboxes" like violence, language and so on.
Adult Written bysuehyer July 17, 2009

A tied up princess on an arena floor waiting to be eaten by rats doesn't really strike me as kid friendly.

Very dark/gloomy for a kids movie. Having the queen die from fright at having a rat in her soup was bad enough but then our "Good" rat talks the handmaiden into kidnapping the princess. A tied up princess on an arena floor waiting to be eaten by rats doesn't really strike me as kid friendly. Then there's the side conversation of the hand maid being given away by her father only to be sold by her uncle. Now it is a small part of the movie but its there and raises questions for little ones. This was a poor choice for my kids 6 and 7.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 2 and 5 year old Written bytravelinlite75 June 10, 2009

i say skip it, at least for preschoolers and young elementary kids

i thought this was a fairly boring movie. even the mouse didn't really draw me in. my almost 6 yr. old was frightened but the sword fighting, trying to capture the rat, then the mouse and also the princess being tied up to be eaten. this was not "G" for my and my family. i am fairly selective and don't let them watch too many movies.
Adult Written bystarshine01 March 14, 2009

Know your kid's threshold

If your kid(s) worry about a character while in peril then you may wish to reconsider this one. A minor character has a heart-attack which leads to endless questions but not concern. One character is over obsessed with being a princess and helps one rat kidnap the real princess. This message might (and probably SHOULD) be questioned. Rats are the villains and portrayed as such they can get a little intense. At one point they tie up the princess and prepare to serve her for supper. At this point my seven year old began crying. He REALLY did not like this scene! He asked us not to buy the movie. He bounced back once the scene was over. Think about your child's reaction to past movies. Some kids may take this in stride, while others not so much. It was a good movie, several sub-plots go on simultaneously which may seem confusing but they all get resolved.
Adult Written bycstrick January 19, 2009

Walked out halfway through: Not 'G', not for young kids

My children are 3 and 5. After several sword fights where people are gutted, and where the handmaiden picks up a cleaver while contemplating murder, we decided to leave. That said, my friend thought it just great for her kids. Then again, she let her 2 year old and 4 year old watch all of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones series, and Harry Potter. If you are like me, and think that 'G' rated movies should lack profanity, violence and sex, then I would avoid this movie. No profanity or sex, just lots of darkness and violence. The movie was well done, though, ...for older kids.
Parent Written byhulagirls October 11, 2014

Distrurbing at the very least!

Advertised by a cute little mouse and a G rating I mistakenly thought it would be OK for my three children aged 3-8. I was so wrong. Regardless of what others say the end message was morbid. In the end the handmaid is seen as one of the heroines even though shortly before she was intent on butchering the princess with a cleaver because her jealousy. We are supposed to forgiver her and rejoice in her change of heart. This movie just hurts the soul and will hurt the child's innocence.
Parent Written bylloc June 11, 2013

Visually dark - wouldn't recommend it for younger viewers

Brought my 2 daughters and my niece when this was in the theaters. Made the mistake of thinking that just because it's rated G, it would be a good fit. Ages included 7, 6 and 4. None of them loved it. My 4 year old was terrified through the majority of the movie, and I encouraged her to cover her eyes. I don't have an issues with some scariness in a children's movie, but there wasn't much humor to balance it out. Most of the movie takes place in the dungeon/basements of the castle, and the scenes are all visually dark which contributes to the scary factor for some younger kids. Also, in one of the last scenes, the princess is tied up and there is a hoard of rats holding forks and knives, waiting to "dig in" - this visual did not feel appropriate for a G-rated movie though it mostly went over my children's heads. My daughter read the book when she was 9 and loved it, but did not really enjoy the movie when she was 6. Both my 7 year old niece and 6 year old daughter's main comment about the movie was that it was scary.
Parent of a 6 year old Written bysshaffer January 9, 2009

My almost six year old left in the middle.

My mother took my child to see Tale of Despereaux with my approval due to it's G ratting, she was so scared at one intense scene she left the movie in the middle and has had several nightmares since. I wish I had been there or had preveiwed it.
Parent Written byranuaah November 17, 2013

ok but for older kids

The themes in this movie seemed geared toward older children (8-10 year olds). Our 7 seven year old was scared at times although the 5 and 3 year old were not.
Adult Written byTimTheTVGuy November 18, 2012

Really good.

Fun movie for the whole family.I've never read the book,but this movie is really good.It has so much action,adventure,ect.Bravo to the director.
Adult Written byJEDI micah November 18, 2012

Excellent animated fairy tale for the whole family!

Not only are the animation, story, and characters great, but also the voice-acting is superb, with Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, and even Christopher Lloyd! Kids and adults will love this movie, even if they haven't read the book. I wish I did!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent Written byvengle723 February 17, 2012

definitely not for the little ones

first of all, this is a beautiful book, so if you want your children to know the tale of despereaux, start there. but recognize that this is very much a story about grief, loss, and childhood disappointment; passages that are moving and poignant in the book are downright heartrending on screen. yes, the queen dies abruptly in full view of her husband and daughter, but that's not the only reason i say this movie is not for young children. it's true that there's no graphic violence, but there are a number of highly charged emotional scenes, including one in which the bound and helpless princess is laid out before a throng of bloodthirsty rats. children won't pick up on all the undertones of that scene, but they will respond to its intensity. my older kids watched this when they were about 7 and 4, and i was very sorry to have let my son (the 4 year old) see it; even though he claimed to like it, there were several scenes for which he left the room, and lots of anxious conversations to process. while there is indeed a moral of redemption through bravery and duty, it's a moral young kids won't be able to grasp. don't let that sweet little mouse face fool you: save this one for the 8-and-older crowd.
Parent of a 17 year old Written bylove2 September 26, 2009

not so.......

not so good
Educator Written byfif April 18, 2009

Great Family Film

Good film with a good message. The movie seemed very disconnected at first, going off on tangents that I deemed unnecessary, but once was used to their style of storytelling I really enjoyed it. A movie all ages can enjoy.
Parent of a 5 and 17 year old Written bycarcrazygrrl February 17, 2009

Loved it

Very well done and fun movie my 5 year old loved it as well. It has somthing for the whole family
Parent of a 1, 8, 9, and 14 year old Written bythejokerspencil January 28, 2009


The only thing you'll be taking out after this film is a good moral which we all know about.
Parent of a 2 and 5 year old Written byarudek805 January 16, 2009

More like Tales of Dark and Disturbed

It is hard to believe this is a G rated film. The film starts with a death, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but might not be the kind of thing that is easy to explain to young children. The film just gets darker from there. The mice throw Despereaux out by tossing him down a well. The rats condemn prisoners to die gladiator style in a ring facing off with a cat. The young maid is sold off by her abusive guardians along with a load of pigs. Some characters trap the princess, tie her up, and attempt to feed her to the rats. It's all very disturbing and not something easy for young kids to understand.
Adult Written byriderhaggard January 9, 2009

too slow, too downbeat for young kids

I was enjoying the movie, since it is imaginative and well-made, with compelling and beautifully-realized imaginary worlds for the rats and mice. But even I found it slow, and my 5-year old lost interest not even half-way thru. If you child is a few years older, is captivated by imaginary worlds and has a good attention span, it could be well worth seeing. For children younger than six or even seven, I think it's too dark-themed for too long.
Adult Written bysoiazabel January 8, 2009

Beauty and smarts, this movie has it all

I took my 6-year old son to see this movie. We had been waiting for weeks for the opportunity, and we weren't disappointed. I worried at one point that he may be bored (he is of his generation and his imagination is full of Batman, Power Rangers, Transformers, etc. -- Despereaux is miles away), but he seemed very focused on what was happening on the screen. Having seen it, I would definitely think twice before bringing a younger child. It is not a joyous movie, to say the least. A lot of it is dark and heavy, but the story, the script, the animation... everything is so beautiful and worhtwhile. The dialogue and narration are great, and the characters are very real: like Roscuro and Miggery, and in a different way, the King and the Princess, we all have moments when we let ourselves go and take out our frustrations on others, and do things we come to regret. It is important to know that we can come back from that, and give and seek forgiveness. May we all have little Despereaux around who can come to our rescue and show us the way to Honor, Honesty and Truthfulness.
Parent of a 5 year old Written bymarybeth January 8, 2009

good attempt at adaptation

This attempt at adapting the complex novel was ok, more time could have been spent on the mature themes instead of skimming over them. A sequel would be good or a longer movie. I do believe the overall values expressed are important for kids to be exposed to. My 5 yr old who loves literature enjoyed it, but his friends that watch power rangers and play video games all day didn't get it.