I’m delighted to have four copies of Tale of Despereaux to give away to the first four people who send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with Despereaux in the subject line. Good luck!
The visuals are rich and inviting but a complicated three-part story makes an uneasy transition to screen for the well-loved book by Kate DiCamillo.
Sigourney Weaver narrates the story, beginning with the description of a hero we will not meet for a while, the first of several confusing narrative zig-zags. Before we can meet the title character we must follow a sea-faring rat named Roscuro (voice of Dustin Hoffman) who causes a lot of trouble when he falls into a bowl of soup. And this is not just any soup. This is the soup of the queen of Dor, a country where soup is the national passion. The most important day of the year is the day the new soup presented by the royal chef (voice of Kevin Kline), a true artiste with a muse made of vegetables. Curious Roscuro accidentally falls into the bowl of the queen and she is so shocked that she dies. The grieving king bans soup — and rats — and the kingdom becomes cold and sad, the skies perpetually overcast but never finding the release of rain.
Meanwhile a small mouse with very big ears named Despereaux (voice of Matthew Broderick) cannot seem to learn important mouse skills like cowering. He is brave, adventuresome, and chivalrous. He is a gentleman. And a lonely gap-toothed scullery maid envies the princess and begins to think maybe she should replace her.
The animation is truly magnificent, brilliantly imagined and gorgeously realized. There are a hundred brilliant details from the play of light in the dungeon to the dash across the mousetraps and an Archimboldo-inspired vegetable-man muse. The vistas are jewel-toned and glowing and the physical properties are wonderfully real and thrillingly vivid. The story, however, is less so, over-complicated and murky. What happens in front of those beautiful backgrounds is never quite as interesting as the setting.
What are your favorite movies? “Rocky?” “The Great Escape?” “Happy Gilmore?” “Lord of the Rings?” Are you an adventurer, a creator, an idealist?
Cinescopes: What Your Favorite Movies Reveal About You says that your favorite movies are a reflection of your personality and temperament. Authors Risa Williams and Ezra Webb have written a book that sorts everyone into one of eight categories, based on their favorite movies. Their website also lets visitors submit their top 10 lists to get their profiles and get a chance to see profiles of other movie-lovers with similar tastes. The sorting may be superficial, but it is fun to see what other movies fall into your “type.”
What were they thinking? The latest Burger King ad for a Kids Meal featuring a SpongeBob Squarepants toy is a booty-shaking adaptation of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s famous musical salute to ladies’ rear ends. This is what the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has to say:
Nickelodeon and Burger King have reached a new low. They’ve partnered to produce a new, highly sexualized, ad for a Burger King SpongeBob SquarePants Kids Meal. The commercial, which ran during the men’s NCAA basketball championship last night, features The King singing a remix of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1990’s hit song, “Baby Got Back” with the new lyrics, “I like square butts and I cannot lie.” The ad shows images of The King singing in front of women shaking their behinds for the camera intercut with images of SpongeBob dancing along. The King even measures the behind of one of the woman who has stuffed a phonebook under her dress. After the King informs children about the free SpongeBob toy they get with the purchase of a Burger King Kids Meal, the ad ends with Sir Mix-A-Lot, lounging on a couch with two female admirers, saying, “Booty is booty.”
It’s harmful enough when a beloved media icon advertises junk food to children, but it’s utterly reprehensible when SpongeBob simultaneously promotes the objectification of women through sexualized imagery.
If you find this ad campaign directed at children offensive, the easiest way to express your views is by sending an email to Nickelodeon and Burger King via CCFC’s website.