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#Sundance2023 Review: The Amazing Maurice

January 21, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

A madcap reimagining of the Pied Piper story centred around a swindler cat and his band of talking rats, the European animated film The Amazing Maurice – playing in the Kids section at Sundance – serves as a colourful and often amusing adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s award-winning 2001 book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

Maurice (voiced by High Laurie) is an intelligent orange cat who runs a grift involving a group of (very cute) magical talking rats who go around pretending to infest villages, so they will pay his human friend Keith (Himesh Patel) to play the role of pied piper and lead them out of town. But they get more than they bargained for when they stumble upon a town completely devoid of rats, where all of the food has been mysteriously disappearing. It’s here that they meet Malicia (Emilia Clarke), a story-obsessed girl who also serves as the film’s narrator, breaking the fourth wall to talk about narrative structure.

The hyperactive pace and budget animation make this one seem geared more towards kids, but there’s also a clever, meta bent to The Amazing Maurice that keeps it fairly enjoyable to watch for older viewers as well. The screenplay by Terry Rossio (one of the writers on Shrek) also has some more subversive elements that feel true to Pratchett’s work, such as the rats being guided by their quasi-religious belief in the Beatrix Potter-like stories of Mr. Bunsy, promising an island paradise where animals live side by side with humans and there are no traps or poisons.

The result is a wacky adventure that is cheerfully all over the place, deconstructing storytelling tropes and borrowing from a variety of fairy tales one moment, and confronting death the next (including run-ins with the Grim Squeeker). It’s an entertaining fractured fairy tale that is brought to life through some lively and appealing voice work, including strong turns from David Thewlis, Gemma Arterton and David Tennant as some of the main rodents.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 19th to 29th in Park City, Utah, with in-person and online screenings. More information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

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