As anyone who's experimented in the kitchen knows, you can put an armful of great ingredients in a pot and let it simmer, but that doesn't mean you're going to get a great soup. Applying this to The Tale of Despereaux, an animated saga of soup love, rodents and fighting back fear for honor, someone needed to add a little more spice.

As anyone who's experimented in the kitchen knows, you can put an armful of great ingredients in a pot and let it simmer, but that doesn't mean you're going to get a great soup.

Applying this to The Tale of Despereaux, an animated saga of soup love, rodents and fighting back fear for honor, someone needed to add a little more spice.

The adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's Newberry-winning children's book by co-directors Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen adopts the source's breathtaking visual style, with character design out of the Old Masters school.

Matthew Broderick gives voice to the bold, big-eared mouse Despereaux, who ends up on a grand adventure involving a kingdom overtaken by sadness after the queen's soup-related death, and joining Broderick in the voice cast are Dustin Hoffman, Sigourney Weaver, Tracey Ullman and William H. Macy.

But despite an entertaining start, the story drags by the third act, so much so that it lost a vocal part of the young audience at the screening I attended last weekend. While no one had to carry me out of the auditorium moaning, if I'd brought a guardian, I probably would've gotten a talking-to for squirming in my seat.