Starring Hugh Laurie, Emilia Clarke, David Thewlis, Himesh Patel, Gemma Arterton
Critical Rating: *** ½ of *****
Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: ***** of *****
Studio Rakete’s The Amazing Maurice, an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s children’s novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, is a lively piece of animated entertainment featuring a who’s who of British voice talent.
Maurice (Hugh Laurie), a devilishly charming talking cat, prowls from town to town practicing con artistry and trickery. Along with his human friend Keith (Himesh Patel), Maurice offers rodent protection services to gullible townspeople. The rodents that are ushered out of town work for Maurice and are in on the scheme, and Maurice, Keith and the rats walk away from each job with the townspeople’s money.
When Maurice, Keith and the rats arrive in Bad Blintz, they are shocked to find a town plagued by famine. Malicia (Emilia Clarke), the daughter of the mayor of Bad Blintz (and the film’s narrator), tasks Maurice, Keith and the rodents with helping solve the mystery of the disappearing food… leading all involved to some strange and exciting places.
The Amazing Maurice has a lot going for it, including memorable character design (the villains, in particular, have a strange and idiosyncratic look about them) and a uniquely British sense of humor. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s charming and entertaining enough for a fun family movie night.
For a children’s movie with such major names in its voice cast, it’s curious how relatively under-the-radar The Amazing Maurice’s theatrical release was – and without the marketing power of a major distributor like Disney or DreamWorks to raise awareness, I suspect it might not be on everyone’s radar. I’m happy to say it’s worth seeking out and has a unique personality all its own to distinguish it from other recent animated titles.
The Amazing Maurice is rated PG for occasional crude humor and comical action, none of which is truly objectionable. I’d recommend the films for ages six and above.
The film is now available to rent or purchase through Amazon Prime Video and Vudu.
Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.