Stylistically, the film uses brushed, pastel tones to reference classical painting, the most direct example of which is the Arcimboldo-inspired kitchen helper whose body consists of fruit and vegetables. Also, older viewers won’t have to rely on another tired barrage of pop-cultural references, beat-boxing squirrels or hackneyed Shrekisms, and can instead grapple with the film’s surprisingly complex subtexts: ideas of regional conflict, unreasonable abuse of the law and political scaremongering.
There are a few problems, mainly with the narrative which keeps doubling-back on itself to introduce new characters. And while it’s not animated with the breathless pizazz of a Pixar, ‘Despereaux’ is all the more affecting and dramatically successful for its contemplative pace and measured delivery of information. A lovely film.