I rarely go to the movie theater, but if there is one type of film that entices me, it is a movie based on a children’s book. Because of this, my six-year-old son and I headed to the local cinema to see The Tale of Despereaux. We recently read the book together, so we were excited to watch the tale unfold on the big screen.
The Tale of Despereaux is a creatively written, exciting book. There are many parts, however, that are quite dark. If I hadn’t entered the theater with this knowledge, I would not have appreciated this movie. Although Despereaux is adorable (and I liked the movie partly because he was just so cute), most of the movie is quite grim. The book was similar in nature, but the book had much more comic relief that did not translate well on film (or was left out). On a positive note, I did think that the conclusion of the movie was well done and it emphasized one of DiCamillo’s major themes from the book. However, I am on the fence about whether or not the ending balanced out the overall feeling of gloom portrayed during most of the movie.
As with any movie based on a book, some things were changed. I expected that, and I didn’t mind some of the changes. For some reason, however, the makers of the movie added a character made of vegetables, perhaps you could call him vegetable man. While I realize that mice and rats did talk in this movie, I found the talking vegetable man was unnecessary, even in a fairy tale. His character added nothing to the story.
My son liked this movie, but he did think that the book was much funnier. Unlike his mother, he liked the vegetable man (perhaps they added him to appeal to children). Although he might not admit it, some of the scenes were scary to him. I know this because he was practically sitting in my lap at times, and he also mentioned that he didn’t think his little sister would have liked it. Several of the crucial scenes in the movie were played out on a much grander scale than in the book, and my son thought this was great. I am sure most six-year-old boys would give a thumbs up for violence and sword fighting.
Overall, we liked the film, but the book is much better. For me, the best part of the movie was the animation of Despereaux. If you don’t see the film, look up some of the pictures. He is a cutie. If you haven’t read Carrie’s review of this book, be sure to check it out as well. By commenting on her post, you could win a copy of the book, and it truly is a book worth reading.
Merry Christmas from the team at 5 Mintues for Books!
Lauren is a wife, a mother of two, and an avid reader. She blogs at Baseballs and Bows.