In the tradition of a classic Disney-esque animated fairy tale The Tale of Despereaux based on the award winning children’s classic by Kate DiCamillo is about a mouse named Despereaux (Matthew Broderick) with Dumbo-sized ears and an oversized heart. His home the Kingdom of Dor was once a happy place but now due to unexpected events it has been shrouded by doom and gloom. Not for Despereaux! The fearless rodent doesn’t adhere to the usual mouse-like criteria but instead yearns for adventure especially after he starts reading fables from the castle library. He also bonds with Princess Pea (Emma Watson) who is sad and lonely her kingdom is in such disarray. Despereaux looks at her as a damsel in distress and wants to help. Unfortunately these are all serious no-nos in Mouseworld and so Despereaux is banished him to live in the dungeon with the evil Rats where he meets an agreeable rat Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman) who is also different from his kind. Roscuro wants to right some past wrongs but is spurned by the princess. Needless to say things do indeed go awry and Despereaux must summon all his courage and bravery to save the day. Some of the best ensemble casts in movies are being assembled for animated features these days and The Tale of Despereaux is a prime example. Broderick is ideal as the dignified and ultimately courageous little mouse. Hoffman -- in his second ‘toon turn of the year (Kung Fu Panda) -- proves again as the soup-loving Roscuro he has a real future as an animated character. Harry Potter’s Watson has the perfunctory English princess role but plays it with compassion while Tracey Ullman as maid-cum-wannabe princess Mig doesn’t go for the laughs but portrays Mig as a hopeful outcast looking for a fairy tale ending to her humdrum life. A whole set of other wonderful vocal talents in Despereaux include Kevin Kline Frank Langella Richard Jenkins Stanley Tucci William H. Macy Robbie Coltrane and Christopher Lloyd. And to top it off with just the right touch of whimsy is the lilting narration of Sigourney Weaver whose comforting voice will assure the youngest kids in the audience that things in Dor aren’t quite as dire as they appear. Co-directors Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen invest into this gorgeous-looking film all the care that went into the art of DiCamillo’s beautiful book. In fact unlike many other recent animated features Despereaux is distinctly old-fashioned despite all the CGI. The look of the movie is definitely inspired by older more traditional Disney-style fairy tale classics. Gary Ross’ (Seabiscuit) fine screenplay is reverential to the book and doesn’t back away from the darker aspects of the story which despite its G rating might be a little on the scary side for the very young ones. For everyone else The Tale of Despereaux is most likely this season’s must-see movie event for the entire family.
September 11, 2003 4:04pm EST
Top Story: Sharon Osbourne Reveals Brief Past Split
Osbourne family matriarch Sharon told Barbara Walters in an interview for ABC's 20/20 set to air Friday that she briefly left her husband, Ozzy, this spring. The separation happened while the family was waiting for a bed to become available at a treatment center for their teenage son, Jack. Sharon said she was miffed that Ozzy continued abusing alcohol and prescription drugs while Jack was in rehab and gave her hubby an ultimatum. "I just said, 'You just have to stop,' and he didn't. And I said, 'Well then, I'm going.' I packed my bags, and I left," Sharon told Walters. But Sharon adds that the separation only lasted a few days. "The minute I left, the next morning he gave up drinking. But I needed to make sure that he was on a roll. That he really meant it," she said. "And, after four days, I came back to see him. And he was trying so hard, so hard. Still is clean and sober." The 17-year-old Jack, who gained notoriety with the rest of his family on the MTV series The Osbournes, admitted he tried to commit suicide by taking pills and drinking absinthe. In April, he started a two-month stint in a rehab facility for alcohol and drug abuse. Sharon's syndicated daytime talk show, meanwhile, debuts on Monday.
Michael Jackson Loses Property Tax Break
Singer Michael Jackson, who has been receiving about $70,000 a year in tax breaks on his Santa Ynez Valley ranch for the last decade, has agreed to remove unapproved development on part of his 2,600-acre Neverland Ranch from state agricultural protections, The Associated Press reports. An investigation by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors found that Jackson had failed to file building permits on much of the development on his Neverland estate over the past 10 years. But although the pop oddity has agreed to remove his house, amusement park, zoo and several other structures from the state Williamson Act agricultural preserve program, supervisors are still considering legal action to collect back taxes and possibly fines for permit and zoning violations.
Tribune Acquires Sex and the City Rights
The broadcasting unit of Tribune Co. has acquired rights to HBOs hit series Sex and the City, but fans will have to wait two years to catch the toned-down reruns. According to the AP, the show will air on the company's 26 major-market stations six days a week, beginning in September 2005. The show, which stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, is in its final season on HBO. Tribune Co., whose stations reach more than 80 percent of U.S. television households, did not say how much it paid for paid for syndication rights.
Two Towers DVD Still Reigns
New Line Home Entertainment's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers continued its reign in the home video industry in its second week of release. According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Two Towers earned an estimated $15.23 million in gross rental revenue in its second week. During its debut week ending Sept. 1, the DVD also set this year's Day 1 top-selling DVD record and Week 1 top-renting home video of all time, topping $100 million in estimated gross consumer spending in just five days on store shelves.
Omar Sharif Through With "Ali Baba Stuff"
Film legend Omar Sharif, who has starred in the classics Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago, said he is fed up with "useless" films. "When I was a star, when I was younger, they used to write parts or adapt parts for me so that I could play them. But now that I'm old, there's no parts for me except old Arabs," the 71-year-old Oscar-nominated actor told Reuters. "There are parts of old Arabs sometimes but in terrible films, cheap, stupid films, Ali Baba-type of stuff," Sharif said. "I decided I wouldn't make any more stupid films."
Hogan's Heroes's Larry Hovis Dies
Actor Larry Hovis, who played Sgt. Carter in the 1960s TV series Hogan's Heroes, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer, Reuters reports. He was 67. Hovis was best known for his work in the long-running World War II comedy series but also had a recurring role in the television show Gomer Pyle, USMC and was a creator and performer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.. Hovis taught acting and characterization at a college in the central Texas town of San Marcos in 1990. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at the school's Theater Center.
Role Call: Ridley Scott Talks Gladiator 2, Rodriguez, Molina Join Sian Ka'an
Director Ridley Scott tells Empire Online that the draft for Gladiator 2 is written, but don't expect to any of Russell Crowe's character: The story picks up where the first film left off and will take place entirely outside the Coliseum. "I wouldn't touch the gladiatorial side again, we have to go to the next step," Scott said. "There will be more politics and praetorians." No casting decisions have yet been made … Variety reports Michelle Rodriguez and Alfred Molina have joined the voice cast of Sian Ka'an, the first Hispanic-themed and -produced animated feature. The duo joins Placido Domingo and Cheech Marin in the project, which centers on a young girl in small-town Mexico must rescue her father and save the Golden Snail from extinction. Produced by Puerto Rico-based MUVI Films, "Sian Ka'an" is being directed by Raul Garcia and is due to start production in November.