Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Amazing Maurice (2022) Film Review
The Amazing Maurice
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Terry Pratchett was a man who knew the rules of traditional storytelling and characters and that knowledge allowed him to bend them in interesting ways that retained a whiff of the original while being original in themselves. So it is with this family tale that's scampering on to Sky TV this Christmas in the UK and then heading Stateside to Sundance.
Very loosely based around the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, it's full of knowing nods to that story. It also comes complete with a framing device in which our young heroine Malicia (voiced by Emilia Clarke) goes so far as to note that she's part of a framing device. Whether things need to be quite this meta is debatable, but the fourth wall breaking is kept reasonably sprightly and mostly in its place by Shrek writing veteran Terry Rossio. At one point Malicia declares: "In many ways, I don't think the plot of this adventure has been properly structured" - but it has arguably been structured to within an inch of its life.
The main focus of the tale is Maurice, a large ginger moggie with a mouthful of teeth that would put the Cheshire Cat in the shade and who is forced to remind people at regular intervals that it's pronounced "Maureeees". He's a sarky sort, he is a cat after all, and Hugh Laurie's vocals suit him perfectly. Maurice's mates - who have lost top billing in the transition from source book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents to the film - are a band of rats. They are far more chatty than most after dining on the wizardry dump near the Unseen University and they've also got a young human called Keith (Himesh Patel) in tow. Keith has an important part to play in the little band's ruse, which sees them travel from town to town creating a 'plague of rats' until Keith pipes the rodents away for a suitable sum. The mice think that Maurice is saving the cash so they can go to live on an island they have read about in a book and believe is a paradise, where men and rats live side by side. Maurice? Well, as previously noted, Maurice is a cat, so has other ideas.
Often cats are portrayed as simplistic bad guys but Maurice is more of a flawed feline than anything more sinister, which is just as well because soon he and his chums will be teaming up with Malicia in order to take on dangerous villain Boss Man (David Thewlis, having a lot of vocal fun) in order to save a town from famine. Throw in the actual Pied Piper (Rob Brydon), who has more than a screw loose, and the stage is set for a fair bit of adventurous family fun and a decent dose of mild peril. The animation from Toby Genkel and Florian Westermann's team has a cosy feel and warm colour palette and there's a decent amount of visual gags as well as scripted one-liners.
The rats - which are all named after things they found in the dump, including Dangerous Beans (David Tennant), Darktan (Ariyon Daktari) and Peaches (Gemma Arterton) - are all lovingly rendered with distinctive clothing and characterisation. The plot is straightforward enough to follow even for young audiences, while older ones will doubtless enjoy the riffs on the classics that are aimed at them. Like the Cheshire cat, the last thing to fade will be your grin.Reviewed on: 14 Dec 2022