The Amazing Maurice is not easy to catch because not many theatres are screening it. After running around Europe, this bad cat is ready to challenge other animated miscrent felines in “the New World.” Unlike Garfield, this streetwise tomcat has something up his paws! When people spot him, he’s running a racket with Keith the pied piper, and a specific family of rats! That’s not good. It’s a great premise for a movie to see how he redeems himself, but for part of the tale, what we see is just how much of a con artist that he is.
Pacing issues makes this film feel longer than it should, and where it finds its feet is with Malicia (Emilia Clarke), the narrator who is also in this story. I like how she talks about the various literary devices used to keep her tale and the rodent’s moving forward. Without her, I probably wouldn’t feel as invested. She’s quite the character too, and the best laughs come from her than those who make up the main cast.
However, the rats and their boss cat bite off more than they can chew when they encounter a village that’s bereft of food and villagers. As Maurice (Hugh Laurie), Keith (Himesh Patel) and his pals begin to investigate, what they find is that the governers have a grander scheme to exterminate the rodentia for all!
I really wanted to like this film, as it’s an adaptation of Terry Pratchett‘s book, titled The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Amazon link). This author can do no wrong, but somehow this film loses steam by the second act. Despite having a all-star cast being stellar in their respective roles (even David Tennant can be heard!), that’s not enough to make this film heard. It may be because the conflicts that come into this tale become too widespread. There’s a motley crew of “exterminators” who feel out of place because of the way they get introduced. They look like they should belong in The Boxtrolls. But as for their importance, they provide the rivalry that’s needed to carry the story forward.
The leader is a mysterious cloaked figure-head (voiced by David Thewlis, if I’m recognizing the role right) who is a threat to the “good” rat’s well-being, and once I realised that, I managed to find a focus to keep going with this film. Thankfully, everything comes to head when confrontations are made, and we meet the real Pied Piper! I almost thought I’m watching a fractured fairy tale, and although this can’t save a film, I at least got through the movie to give it a fleeting thumbs up.
3½ Stars out of 5