The Amazing Maurice

Oh, rats!

The streetwise title talking tabby had a good grift going. He’d come across a village somehow recently infested with especially nasty rats, then call in (for a price) his special pied piper, who would lead all the rats away, and Maurice (don’t call me Morris!) would reap the profits. Except the rats were part of his posse, and the piper a fake.

Their scam is interrupted when they arrive in a town where all the food mysteriously disappears, and that, despite definite traces, there seem to be no rats.  The mayor’s feisty daughter, Malicia, quickly sees through their ploy and tasks them with finding the real pied piper and stealing his magic flute, the only thing that can kill a “rat king,“ the apparent cause of the food thefts.

It’s hard to tell who this animated adventure was made for. It has more than enough color, motion and sound to qualify as a babysitter flick for the kiddies yet offers just enough wit to keep the parents from nodding off. But it’s extremely talky and the scattershot storyline requires lengthy bits of exposition. Plus a few scenes may be too macabre for kids.

The movie is dragged up to the watchable category by its talented voice cast, which includes Emilia Clarke, Hugh Laurie, David Thewlis, Himesh Patel and Gemma Arterton. (93 min)