Archive for April 24, 2024


The Amazing Maurice

Last weekend, I watched the animated movie version of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, the Terry Pratchett book, and it was delightful. It’s been a long time since I read the book, so I can’t say how precisely the movie sticks to the book, but it felt right. There wasn’t much that jumped out at me that made me say, “Hey, that didn’t happen like that!” I think there were some things missing, but that always happens when translating book to movie.

In case you aren’t familiar with this one, it’s a standalone book set in the Discworld universe, aimed at an older child/young adult audience. I think the main human characters are preteen/very early teens, but the reading level would be pretty advanced for middle-grade readers (though it’s hard for me to judge, since I was reading adult books when I was nine, but I still read children’s books now). It’s a spin on the Pied Piper story. A cat (Maurice) and a group of rats have gained sentience, intelligence, and the ability to talk, thanks to proximity to the magical university. They’ve teamed up, along with an orphan kid, to create a kind of Pied Piper scam. The rats invade a town and make people think there’s an infestation, then the kid shows up with his flute to lead the rats away, for payment. But then they come upon a town that has no local rats and something fishy going on, and they dig into it, with the help of the mayor’s daughter, who’s read way too many books and expects the world to work like a story.

One thing the movie version has going for it is perfect casting. In particular, there’s Hugh Laurie as Maurice the cat, and there’s David Tennant as one of the lead rats, an albino who seems weak but who’s the most clever, and Emilia Clarke plays the spunky, brainy, but still a bit ditzy, mayor’s daughter.

The animation reminds me of the Despicable Me movies in the way the characters are depicted, but the backgrounds remind me of Disney fairy tale movies.

This movie was made and released during the pandemic, so it sort of fell under the radar. I don’t recall seeing anything about it playing around here. At least, it didn’t get a review in the local newspaper. I found it on hoopla, the library streaming service, and was able to check it out. It’s a fun fairytale retelling with a twist/talking animal movie. And it’s an adaptation of a book I liked that doesn’t make me angry. You don’t have to be familiar with Discworld to follow it, but there are a few Easter eggs thrown in that fans of that series will spot.