The Amazing Maurice Parent Guide
With surprisingly gruesome violence and an amoral protagonist, there is nothing amazing about this movie for families.
Parent Movie Review
The Amazing Maurice is an adaptation of a much beloved and celebrated book, “The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents”. However, I will be very much surprised if this film is ever beloved, or much celebrated. Having not read the source material, I cannot comment on its faithfulness to its canon. But as a general consumer of children’s movies, I can safely say this is one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time, and I would not take your kids to it, nor would I recommend you see it on your own. I have no idea for whom this movie was intended. The themes were far too dark for children; the medium far too tedious for adults; teenagers would cringe throughout. I thought often throughout the film: who is supposed to be enjoying this?
In addition to its uncertainty about its intended audience, I struggled to find a likable protagonist. The title, and main character, assure you (while playing fast and loose with the fourth wall) that the movie is about Maurice (voiced by Hugh Laurie). Maurice is a magical, talking cat with a pretty terrible code of ethics as evidenced by his scamming of strangers, his friends, and his penchant to abandon anyone as soon as he deems necessary. He travels around the country with his “friends”, an orphan boy (Himash Patel) and a group of magically enhanced rats that can also speak, as they scam village after village, convincing them of a (fake) rat infestation, and then “pied pipering” them away for a fee. A musical number tries to convince you that the whole story is actually about rats – and it does a pretty decent job. Upon reflection, it definitely feels more like a rat movie than a cat movie.
All is well and good until they come upon a town which has seemingly no rats, but all the food continues to be stolen, and they are reaching crisis levels of famine. Maurice’s rat friends embark on an adventure to solve the mystery of the missing but omnipresent rats and discover (much to my actual horror) a rat king (David Thewlis) at the center of the problem. Only this rat king is enhanced by magical powers – not like real rat kings which are horrifying enough and should make everyone recoil.
Along the way they find allies like Malicia, the Mayor’s talkative daughter (Emilia Clarke), who insists she’s the main character of the story, and is presented as the narrator before she shows up in the action, while she quips about framing devices and foreshadowing. Quite meta for a children’s film. And we also meet fairy tale characters, like the Pied Piper, the Grim Reaper, and in attempt at humor, the Grim Squeaker – you know, like the Grim Reaper except for rats.
What really brings this whole movie down is the violence. There is an allusion to the horrors of and a description of rat coursing, but if that weren’t bad enough, there is an actual scene of it. And while we don’t see dogs eat rats, we can certainly hear it, and see the horror on the faces of the rats who witness the carnage. The pied piper also casually jokes about his cannibalistic tendencies, and one of the most tense scenes shows him luring two characters towards an oven, after he has lured and cooked a turkey in the same oven. Most graphic is when the rat king’s core (disgusting enough) with its pulsing brain like knot of tails, turns to a rat and snaps its neck/back/body? Something snaps, and they collapse to the ground dead. Spoiler alert: the death isn’t permanent, but it is quite violent, and not what I would expect in a children’s film.
I do not envy the task of making rats likeable, endearing protagonists. Especially while putting the idea of a rat king in the audience’s mind. I understand why you would try to present Maurice as the hero. But he is not likable or admirable, and his selflessness comes too late for a satisfying redemptive arc. Overall, this movie’s a miss. Or at least, one I would encourage you to miss.Directed by Toby Genkel, Florian Westermann. Starring Hugh Laurie, Emilia Clarke, David Thewlis. Running time: 93 minutes. Theatrical release February 3, 2023. Updated February 5, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Amazing Maurice
The Amazing Maurice
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Amazing Maurice rated PG? The Amazing Maurice is rated PG by the MPAA for action/peril and some rude material.
Violence: A character lures rats into a river, seemingly to their death, but it is part of a scam and played for comedic effect. A rat falls into a trap that is actually a cage; the struggle next to the trap beforehand is intense because you expect death. There is a guillotine of a stuffed rat and many dead rat signs and posters. A character explains what rat coursing is, and when questioned why no one’s heard of it he ominously says because there wouldn’t be any rats who could tell you about, implying a complete wipeout of anyone who had seen it. A character is kidnapped, and all you see is many hands reach out of the darkness to pull her out of sight. There is a rat coursing scene where you hear rats being eaten by a dog. Another rat is thrown into the rat coursing pit and fights with the dog. As part of the escape many people try to step on and squash the rat, the violence and destruction feels eminent. There is a brawl that ends with people all knocked out on the floor. A character violently grabs a bird it lures to its home and then it is seen in a roasting pan as a turkey dinner before it is put into an oven. A character hits another character in the head with a tea pot and they black out. A character implies that he ate an entire town full of children. A character lures two children towards an oven. A rat climbs up a character’s trousers and it is implied there is some biting in some sensitive areas that cause them react intensely. A character flies into an open fire, and then runs and jumps down a very long well. A character admits they ate a friend, and that they feel bad about it. A giant character throws two humans high and far into the forest, and we see them land, hurt but alive. A group of characters magically snap another character’s neck, causing them to drop dead. A character is so severely beat up (black eye, injured) that they die and go to some sort of afterlife.
Sexual Content: The back of a rat is seen as he urinates on a plate. A character kisses another character on the cheek. A character dips another character for a long kiss. A mechanical tinker rat is implied to have created a family with a clock.
Profanity: No profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character is seen drinking wine.
Page last updated February 5, 2023
The Amazing Maurice Parents' Guide
Who do you think is the real hero of the movie? Which character did you like the most? Which character did you think you were the most like?
We saw several different types of mind control in this movie. Even though that’s not possible, what would you do if you felt you weren’t in control of what was happening to you? How would you protect yourself against someone else controlling you? What does that make you think about autonomy, and having control over your own self?
Maurice seems to struggle with what friendship means throughout the movie, until the end. What does it mean to you to be a good friend? What does it mean to be a bad friend?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you hope the book is better you can read The Amazing Maurice and His Amazing Rodents by Terry Pratchett.
For more ratty figures, you can read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien and illustrated by Zena Bernstein.
Related home video titles:
If rats are your thing and you want to see more rodents in film, you can watch Pixar’s Ratatouille, which stars a little rat with big dreams of becoming a chef in a Parisian restaurant. Rats also come to the fore in Flushed Away, the story of a pet rat who gets flushed down the toilet and winds up working with sewer rats to find his way home.
If it’s fractured fairy tales you’re after, you can go back to Shrek, Shrek II, Puss in Boots, or Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Outside the franchise you can try Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, Ella Enchanted, Hoodwinked, or Enchanted.