Movie: The Tale of Despereaux

At some point in the last couple of months, on the recommendation of my mom (who is an avid review reader - particularly Christian movie reviewers), I picked up The Tale of Despereaux on DVD at Costco. Often, if there's a movie more than 4 of us want to see, we go ahead and pick it up, figuring that even at $20 (which usually they're not) that's still less than at the theater and, if we like it, we have it to watch again. Usually this works out as we haven't honestly ended up with that many stinkers that no one wants to watch again.

--Spoilers follow, if you care (my recommendation? Don't bother caring.) --

Saturday night we finally got around to watching it. The story is that of a mouse who, unlike the other mice in the Kingdom, won't cower, doesn't like scurrying around afraid and is, generally, pretty brave. On top of that, he likes reading fairly tales (rather than eating the books and destroying them.) Because of this, he adopts a code of truth, justice, and honor. Also because of this, he ends up banished from the mouse community and put into the dungeon with the rats (from whence no mouse has ever returned.) Here is he is saved by a very un-ratlike rat and together they try to right the wrongs that led to rats and soup being banished. It all, of course, goes pearshaped before managing to get put back together.

A sub plot involves a young girl who is the daughter of a pig farmer. The pig farmer sells her, along with the pigs, to the castle and so she ends up as a maid to the princess. But she is jealous and thinks she should be the princess and through various twists, ends up capturing the princess and giving her to the rats to eat.

All this would have been fine, except that they then felt the need to explain why this maid's heart is so black and full of bitterness. Any guesses? Anyone? Well, it's because she's adopted, of course! See, her father (incidentally, he's the guard in the dungeon) couldn't take care of her. So he placed her for adoption with the pig farmer and his wife who then went on to mistreat and sell her. Because adoptive parents are, as we all know, crap people who mistreat the child and only wanted them for slave labor. And, of course, once she's reunited with her father (he recognizes her from a birthmark later on) then everything is sunshine and light. So whatever other message this movie thought it was portraying, all they managed to do was reinforce the common and pervasive idea of our culture that adoption is evil.

And this isn't just an adoptive mother over reacting. It really isn't. (Though even if I am only seeing it from my perspective as an adoptive mom, the way they present it is so over the top offensive that I will never let my young child watch this movie - if he wants to see it when he's older and more secure in the fact that his adoption came out of the most sacrificial love possible on the part of the incredible young woman who gave birth to him, then fine.) Adoption gets a bad rap, in general. And I'm so sick of Hollywood and any other type of media (fiction writers especially) jumping on the bandwagon without bothering to see what adoption really is when lived out in the homes around the country - where a child that is given in adoption is a precious and amazing gift that brings light and joy to a family. Instead, young women go into a pregnancy center and tell the counselors over and over that they would rather kill - and yes, they use the word kill, not abort - their child than place him or her for adoption because it makes them a better mother to choose death over a life with a loving family that isn't biological. What a sick, twisted world we live in that this is an accepted - and praised! - thought process.

Because of this, and because the rest of the story was incredibly slow and boring, The Tale of Despereaux gets a negative five stars. Seriously, they should have saved their money. You should certainly save yours.

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