Cut to the chase: Brimming with Terry Pratchett’s signature irreverence and dark humor, “The Amazing Maurice” is an enthralling, fable-based animated classic in the making. Viewer be warned, however; children too young or immature may find the situations uncomfortably adult.
Based on the 2001 novel by Terry Pratchett which itself is a loose adaptation of the German fairy tale about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, “The Amazing Maurice” is a spectacular reimagining of folklore that has haunted generations of children. According to the legend, the Pied Piper would visit a village infested by the Bubonic plague and rid the townsfolk of the disease-carrying vermin by playing a hypnotic song on his magic pipe.
Pratchett has taken that ancient story and thrown in irony, sarcasm and plenty of tomfoolery, making disease, famine and ignorance a raucous, unforgettable time. Maurice (Hugh Laurie), a sentient orange cat, partners with a young man named Keith (Himesh Patel) and a squadron of talking mice for a ghastly racketeering scheme: the boy poses as the Pied Piper, performing faux rat exorcisms in exchange for money.
The film’s gallows humor doesn’t end there. Keith, Maurice and vermin crew stumble into a town where the townsfolk are on the brink of starvation as their food has mysteriously gone missing. Malicia (Emilia Clarke), the mayor’s daughter and our cheeky narrator, joins the party as they battle something just as terrifying as a deadly disease. A Rat King (David Thewlis) is commandeering the town, and Maurice must use his skills as a sharp-witted feline to defeat the monster and, for once, earn his keep.
Like most of Pratchett’s work, “The Amazing Maurice” is meant for older children with a penchant for dark comedy and gothic interests. Screenwriter Terry Rossio tells the story with smart, poignant framework, a plot that flows effortlessly and plenty of comedy to appease adults and kids alike. This isn’t a grand epic or a film that traverses as far as outer space, but the medieval setting it does tackle is rich enough for full immersion and complex enough for an undoubtedly amazing, smart aleck cat to shine.
MPAA Rating: PG for action/peril and some rude material
Recommended Age: 8+
Nightmare Inducers: The Rat King, a shadowy figure made of zombie critters, is a terrifying villain that threatens to scar those too young, but the Pied Piper is a much more insidiously fearsome foe whose sugar-coated front may be the thing that leave older viewers shaken.
Difficult Concepts or Emotions: The film might encourage conversations on dark material like the Bubonic plague, death, laxatives (yes, laxatives are the punchline of a joke) and monopolizing on others’ hardship for monetary gain.
Saturday Family Concerts at Town Hall