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Western Animation / The Amazing Maurice

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The Amazing Maurice is a 2022 animated film from Sky Cinema based on the Discworld novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. It's the story of a cat, the Amazing Maurice, who has a scam with some intelligent rats and a stupid-looking kid who can play a pipe. Because everyone knows how that story goes, right?

It stars Hugh Laurie as the Amazing Maurice, Himesh Patel as Keith, Emilia Clarke as Malicia, David Tennant as Dangerous Beans, Gemma Arterton as Peaches, Ariyon Bakare as Darktan, Joe Sugg as Sardines, Julie Atherton as Nourishing, Hugh Bonneville as the Mayor, David Thewlis as the Boss Man, and Rob Brydon as the Piper.

The film released in the UK on December 16, 2022. An American release courtesy of Viva Films happened on February 3, 2023. The first trailer is available here.

This film has examples of:

  • Abled in the Adaptation: There's a reference to Dangerous Beans having "milky vision", but he shows no signs of being as close to completely blind as he is in the book.
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Sardines wears a top hat and a bow tie, Peaches wears a headscarf, Darktan has two bandoliers (as in the book), and Nourishing wears a leather waistcoat and helmet.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Peaches keeps calling Maurice 'Morris' despite his constant efforts to correct her. This is actually a sly reference to fan debates on which is correct. The audiobook uses the English pronunciation of 'Morris' and was approved by Pratchett himself.
  • Acting Unnatural: As they head towards the Rat Catchers guild, Maurice and Keith walk casually down the middle of the street and nobody gives them a second glance. Malicia, on the other hand, is dressed in a Spy Catsuit and darts from doorway to doorway, hides behind pillars in broad daylight, and generally does everything she can to make it obvious that she is being deliberately stealthy, and draws the attention of everybody she passes.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Most of the stuff about rat religion is distilled down to The Book, and the connection between the ratcatchers' scheme and the Rat King's own plans is simplified.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Maurice is "a sort of mucky tabby" in the book, but ginger here.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The exerpts of Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure go into a bit more detail than the brief sentences used as chapter headers in the book, giving more of a sense of the story.
  • Adaptational Angst Downgrade: Maurice is notably less troubled about having gained sentience because he ate a talking rat. He still regrets it, but his confession is a lot less anguished and more played for laughs.
  • Adaptational Context Change: In both the novel and the film, the real Piper responds to Keith asking about some of the more alarming rumours by saying half the stuff he's supposed to have done is untrue. In the book, this is exactly what it sounds like. In the film, it's False Reassurance, with Malicia quickly asking which half.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Nourishing. In the books, she was just nervous and inexperienced; here she's more like The Ditz, with a penchant for Comically Missing the Point.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: The Rat King appears far earlier than he did in the book. He also steals the Nac Mac Feegle's trick of being a mammalian Worm That Walks, with the rats operating a suit pretending to be human.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: To the point of an inverted Adaptational Nonsapience. In the book, Mr. Clicky is just a clockwork rat the Clan use to trigger traps. In the film, he's a clockwork rat that can refuse to trigger traps, and get into a Silent Snarker argument with Darktan about it. Probably it was from the Unseen University dump.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Zig-zagged with Maurice. He's more openly callous and plays closer to the Cats Are Mean trope than he did in the book, but it's mostly because he's not as subtle as he was in the book. The movie's Maurice is less of a people-pleaser, slightly less devious, and a little more inclined to say out loud the things that his book counterpart just thought, meaning that he comes across as somewhat more of a jerk in the earlier parts of the story. As the story progresses, though, we see his nobler qualities emerge to an even bigger extent than they did in the book.
    • A very downplayed example, but in the book Keith is slightly shocked by Malicia not only "poisoning" the ratcatchers with laxative, but giving them more laxative as an antidote. In the film, he just thinks it's genius.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Somehow, Keith again, in the very same scene. In the book Malicia retorts to Keith calling her "not a nice person" by pointing out he wanted to use real poison, but there's no suggestion of this in the film.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, the real Piper is an easy-going (when not doing his act) fellow conman with a trick pipe that affects rats hypersonically. In the film, he's a crazed cannibal with an actual magic pipe.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: As a result of the Age Lift, Keith is fairly obviously smitten with Malicia from their first meeting and they end up together after a fair bit of romantic banter. In the book they do end up becoming good friends, but also seem to find each other legitimately annoying for some time. There is some suggestion at the end that they may have a future together, but in the book there are no hugs, kisses, or love confessions.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Hamnpork doesn't appear, with Darktan being the leader from the start. The Bad Blintz Watch and town council aren't featured either, nor is the "normal" rat that the Clan rescues in Bad Blintz.
    • Pretty much all the minor rat characters are dropped, as the number of rats is a lot smaller here than in the book (less than two dozen compared to roughly 300). It's Lampshaded in the beginning of the movie that there are so few of them, with a random kid in one of the "plagued" towns pointing out that "there really aren't all that many." Like in the book, though, they're very good at making it appear like there are tons of them.
  • Age Lift:
    • In the book, Dangerous Beans was a very young rat, born after the Change. Here he seems to be one of the older rats (he appears as an adult in the flashback scene) and comes across more as an "aged spiritual leader" than the young visionary from the book.
    • The ages of Keith and Malicia were never specified in the book, but they were both treated as young children. In the film, they are both apparently teenagers with an explicit romance arc.
  • The Assimilator: Once The Rat King is revealed they start mentally and physically drawing the Clan into itself.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: Sardines the tap-dancing show-rat is a black-and-white rat who looks like he's wearing a tuxedo, and has thick whiskers that look like a handlebar moustache.
  • Badass Bandolier: Darktan, the Sergeant Rock of the rats, wears bandoliers festooned with rat-sized weapons, such as needles, safety pins and matches.
  • Bar Brawl: Darktan triggers one when he escapes from the Pit. By the time he gets away, all of the humans attending the rat coursing have knocked each other out (and the chicken is pecking triumphantly at the butt of one of the unconscious spectators).
  • Basement-Dweller: Or rather, attic dweller in Malicia's case. She spends most of her time sitting in her bedroom, which is shown to be the top floor of her house, obsessively reading her books, to the point where she mentions that her father apparently punishes her by locking her out of her room. Her bedroom is also the place where she sits telling the story to the viewer, and at one point her father interrupts her narration to point out that she hasn't come downstairs for three days straight.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: On discovering Sardines is wearing a hat , the rat-catchers decide to make him the star attraction in the Pit. This is where rat coursing takes place: a 'sport' where spectators bet on how long it will take a dog to kill a pit full of rats.
  • Bloodless Carnage: While the cruelty and brutality of rat coursing is still emphasised, the scene in the Pit is heavily toned down from how it is depicted in the book. The non-sapient rats that are put in the arena are killed offscreen and are implied to be eaten whole by the dogs, while in the book their deaths were much more graphic, and their bloodied, mangled corpses remained scattered all around the floor.
  • Book Ends: Not only does the movie start with the opening of a book and end with the closing of a (different) book, but beginning and end has Maurice Chewing the Scenery and doing his dramatic "You've got rats!" speech for a group of townspeople... though in the beginning he's presenting them as a terrible plague and in the ending he's promoting them to the tourists.
  • Bright Is Not Good: The real Pied Piper lives in a colorful little cottage in a brightly-lit clearing in the dark woods, but is a rather unhinged and ruthless cannibal.
  • Canon Character All Along: The Boss Man is the Rat King.
  • Cats Are Mean: Maurice plays up to this stereotype more than he did in the book... but just like in the book, he ends up subverting it by having much more of a conscience than he really wants to admit.
    Maurice: Sorry? Cats are never sorry, they never regret anything! Except... (sigh) Except I do.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Maurice isn't quite as snarky here as in the book, but he still gets in a few digs, especially since a lot of the Lemony Narrator comments from the book have been given to him.
  • Character Narrator:
    • Malicia initially appears in her library, telling the story and making much of her role as omniscient narrator. When she first appears to Maurice and Keith within the story, she breaks the fourth wall to lampshade it.
      Malicia: What? Who's to say a narrator can't also appear in the story she's telling?
    • Maurice also takes over the narration at a couple of points. Like Malicia herself, he breaks the fourth wall and lampshades this, while also reminding the viewer who the actual main character is.
      Maurice: She [Malicia] thinks the story is about her, but it's not. Check out the title if you harbor any doubts.
  • Character Tics: Sardines is the only rat who consistently walks and runs on two legs; the other rats always run on four legs, just getting up on two legs when they slow down, but Sardines stays upright at all times, even when running through rat tunnels. Even when all the rats are panicking and running back and forth, Sardines still runs on two legs and not four.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lampshaded. Malicia opens the film by reading some extracts from Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure, before suddenly telling the viewer that she's actually going to be telling them a different story. During the film's events, it's revealed that the rats also have a copy of this book and are trying to find the (fictional) location that it's set in, with Malicia then explaining to the viewer why she had to establish it beforehand.
    Malicia: And now you know that Mr. Bunnsy is important to the story, because the rats believe he is real.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: When she meets Darktan and the other rats, Malicia takes their clockwork mouse, Mr. Clicky, and puts him in her satchel for safekeeping. In the third act, when Malicia and Keith are being hypnotised by the Piper, Mr. Clicky climbs into the latter's trousers to distract him, allowing the pair to escape from his control and take his pipe. As usual, Malicia lampshades this just before it happens.
    Malicia: Now's about the time a character we almost forgot will appear, unexpectedly, to pay his debt and save the day.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: Boss Man's true appearance is masked beneath a floor-length leather duster, a broad-brimmed hat, a long red scarf wreathed round his head, and mittens, leaving not an inch of skin exposed.
  • Composite Character: Since Hamnpork has been Adapted Out, Darktan takes over his role in the story and even gets a few of his lines. The result is that Darktan comes across as much more of an authoritarian in this movie than in the book, having inherited Hamnpork's bad temper and tendency to command... but he's kept the competence and intelligence he had in the book, making him an odd mix of Drill Sergeant Nasty and A Father to His Men.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Malicia mentions that her father punishes her by locking her out of her room.
  • Continuity Cameo:
    • Rincewind is shown dumping magical rubbish in the flashback, and is accompanied by Twoflower when Bad Blintz becomes a tourist destination in the ending.
    • Malicia has a bronze table shaped like The Luggage in her room.
    • There's a picture of Great A'Tuin hanging in the mayor's office.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The rat catchers reveal that they are responsible for the creation of the Rat King. They threw eight rats together in a bucket to take to the Pit. When they removed the top from the bucket, they discovered the rats had merged together into the Rat King, and they fell under its subjugation.
  • Creator Cameo: A bust of Sir Terry Pratchett appears in the mayor's office.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Mayor of Bad Blintz was a fairly minor character in the book, but here his role is even smaller. He's only in a few scenes and really doesn't play any part in the story at all.
  • Denser and Wackier: The book was already a traditionally comedic Terry Pratchett story with tons of jokes and humorous asides. The movie ramps up the comedy quite a bit, with even more jokes and a lot of added slapstick and physical humor. It's much more wacky and cartoony than the book ever got — though it does keep in a fair bit of the subtle satirical edge and the trademark Pratchett wit, and while the darker undertones are much less prominent they're still very much there.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Darktan serves as both this and Sergeant Rock to the rats. One example of his Drill Sergeant Nasty side is when he hammers home to Nourishing why you want to be the second mouse: because the second mouse gets the cheese, but the first mouse gets the trap!
  • Dub Name Change: The Brazilian Portuguese dub changes Keith and Malicia's names to Quinho and Marina, respectively. It's also arguable that it changed Maurice's name so Maurice is his real name, with his preferred name being the adapted Portuguese version "Mauricinho" instead.
  • Edible Bludgeon: While tied up in the Rat Catchers Guild, and getting sick of Malicia's questions, Keith accidentally hits himself in the face with a large sausage. (It Makes Sense in Context.)
  • Exact Words: When Keith asks the Piper if he's going to kill and eat them, the Piper replies that half the stories people tell about him are untrue. Keith relaxes, until Malicia points out he never said which half.
    Piper: Clever girl. And you look tasty too.
    Malicia: Uh oh. I think he just told us which half.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama:
    • After ridding the first village of rats, Keith attempts to look cool by casually twirling his flute and tossing it in the air. However, he completely botches the catch and drops it and, in trying to grab it, his cowl falls off, completely destroying his air of mystery.
    • Near the end of the film, Maurice runs off to find Keith and Malicia, and runs into them returning with the Pied Piper's magic flute to help defeat the Rat King. Caught up in the moment, they both explain what they're doing to each other and continue running off... before coming back and realizing they both have the same destination now. They agree to forget the whole thing ever happened and run off again... briefly going towards the Piper's hut instead of back to Bad Blintz.
  • Framing Device: Lampshaded. Malicia opens the film as the Character Narrator and openly points out that this scene is a framing device, and throughout the film it frequently cuts back to her here while she tells the story. After the Rat King's defeat, Malicia ends the story by going outside to show the viewer the new and improved Bad Blintz, where the rats and humans now live together in harmony.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: While Malicia narrates in the opening, the adventuring outfit that she wears during the main story can be seen hanging on her wardrobe in the background.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Mr. Bunnsy and most of his friends in Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure. Dangerous Beans, sort of (he wears a stripy sock as a kind of onesie).
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Malicia carries a set of hairpins in her adventure bag, because that is what the heroines in stories always use to pick locks. Despite just shoving the pin in the lock and jiggling it around randomly, she is able to unlock the door of the Rat Catchers Guild.
  • Hooking the Keys: Averted. When the rats are locked up in separate cages, Darktan keeps struggling to reach the key that is hanging on the wall just out of his reach. After watching him do this for a while, Maurice just shoves his cage close enough to the wall for him to grab it.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Malicia ruefully explains to Keith after too much prodding about her troping that she knows life isn't like a story but if she didn't try to make her own she'd just be part of someone else's.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Maurice is very dismissive of Malicia's attempt to open the door of the Rat-Catchers Guild with a Hairpin Lockpick, saying that he has seen real thieves in action and they use tools far more complicated than that. No sooner has he finished saying this then Malicia opens the door, which Maurice dismisses as mere luck.
  • I've Got an X, and I'm Not Afraid to Use It!: After being briefly knocked out by the Pied Piper, Keith woozily comes to and hears this exchange:
    Malicia: I've got this, and I'm not afraid to use it!
    Pied Piper: That's a fork.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Boss Man's ravenous devouring of his food, and the disgusting noises that accompany it, are enough to repulse his two rat catchers. This is because he is actually a being whose body is composed of hundreds of rats.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: This is Maurice to a T. He's selfish, self-centered, and can get downright mean at times, but at the end of the day, and much to his own dismay, he really isn't a bad person.
  • Large Ham:
    • Malicia, especially when she narrates. While all the characters might engage in a bit of Chewing the Scenery from time to time, Malicia really goes to town with it.
    • Maurice is second only to Malicia in hamminess, especially during the "rat plague" intro.
    • And of course Sardines, who can never resist performing even when his life is in danger.
  • Laxative Prank: Maurice, Keith, and Malicia get the rat catchers to spill their guts by convincing them that they have just consumed poisoned sugar. After getting the information they require, they tell the rat catchers that the antidote is in the cellar. After the rat catchers have scrambled into the cellar to find it, it is revealed that Maurice had actually spiked the the sugar with a laxative. And the 'antidote'? More laxative.
  • Lighter and Softer: The book went to some really dark places at times. The movie's been toned down pretty heavily — the dark elements of the story are still very much present, but they are less emphasized, often more hinted at than outright stated. Thanks to the movie being Denser and Wackier than the book, even the scariest moments are seldom played completely straight. It's perhaps best illustrated by the respective beginnings and endings of book and film; the book opens on a dark and stormy night, but the movie opens on a bright, sunny day. The book's climax was in a dark cellar, while the movie's was in an open field.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: When the rats learned to read, they picked names off of things they read, with little understanding of what words were names or even went together logically, hence there being a rat named Dangerous Beans, and another named Peaches.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: Subverted when Malicia, who possesses Wrong Genre Savvy, decides there has to be a secret tunnel in the Rat Catchers Guild. She searches and then, believing that the heroine will only find the secret door after she stops looking, starts randomly leaning against walls and grabbing coat hooks, and is surprised when nothing happens. Keith, meanwhile, finds the hidden switch by spotting something that doesn't belong: a rat hole in the Rat Catchers Guild.
  • Minimalist Cast: Compared the book, where crowds of hundreds of commoners and rats appear, the limited animation budget means that the 300-strong clan is two dozen rats, the crowded barn at the rat pit is ten people, and even the rat pit shows a dog killing six rats in seconds rather than nearly 100 rats in ten minutes.
  • The Music Meister: The Pied Piper is able to command people and animals using his pipe. He uses it to force Keith and Malicia toward the oven. When he starts playing a series of random notes (due to Mr. Clicky running up the inside of his clothing), Keith and Malicia contort themselves with some strange dance moves.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Twurpe's Peerage, mentioned in several City Watch novels, is on a lectern in Malicia's library.
    • While the subplot about Peaches writing down Dangerous Beans's thoughts in a pictographic language she invented is mostly excised, they appear at the end when we're shown the rat school.
    • Mr. Clicky is still involved in the showdown with the real Piper, but in a very different way.
    • At one point, Maurice ponders going out to sea, claiming that he's "always fancied being a ship's cat." As anyone who's read the afterword to The Shepherd's Crown knows, one of the ideas Terry Pratchett had for books that he never got to write, would have been about Maurice's adventures at sea as a ship's cat.
    • Maurice ends up being the one to confront Death at the end, referencing a cat's natural ability to see him with a blind eye in the books.
  • Patchwork Kids: The children of a clockwork rat and an alarm clock look like clockwork rats with bells on their backs.
  • People Puppets: The Piper's playing can make people and animals involuntarily move their bodies.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: When Malicia dips Keith and kisses him, he first goes as stiff as a board, and then completely limp.
  • Puppy Love: The romantic tension between Keith and Malicia is played up considerably compared to the book.
  • Quotes Fit for a Trailer: The trailer has a lot of fun with Malicia's obsession with stories, and tendency to wonder what kind of story she's in.
  • Race Lift: Keith's race isn't mentioned in the book, but before Himesh Patel was cast, concept art had him as a blond white kid.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: Ollie the Snake does this in Mr. Bunnsy has an Adventure, the children's book that serves as the Framing Device for the film; flipping a sign to send Mr. Bunnsy into the Dark Wood.
  • Robo Family: At the end, Mr. Clicky has apparently married an alarm clock and had kids.
  • Rump Roast: After being kicked into the oven by Malicia, the Pied Piper leaps out with his rear end on fire, and jumps into the (ridiculously deep) well to put himself out.
  • Running Gag:
    • Malicia, both when narrating and even when interacting with the other characters within the story, constantly references and lampshades popular storytelling tropes and plot devices as they happen.
    • Whenever cornered or scared, Sardines instinctively breaks into a frenzied tap dance.
  • Sergeant Rock: Darktan serves as both this and Drill Sergeant Nasty to the rats. One example of his Sergeant Rock side is when he leads the Rescue Squad to rescue Sardines from the Pit because No One Gets Left Behind. He takes on multiple terriers single-pawed and, at the end of the mission, hugs Nourishing and says "Welcome to the Rescue Squad!"
  • Spy Catsuit: Malicia dresses in one when she joins Keith and Maurice to solve the mystery of what is going on in Bad Blintz; much to Keith's confusion. This being Malicia, she undoubtedly believes this is the sort of thing a heroine should be wearing when she sets out to solve a mystery.
  • Squirrels in My Pants: The Pied Piper is distracted at the last moment by Mr. Clicky in his pants.
  • Storybook Opening: Subverted. The book that opens the film is actually Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure, before Malicia, as the narrator, closes it and assures the viewer that this is not the story she's going to be telling. The end, however, has Maurice closing a copy of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.
  • Toilet Humor: Part of Maurice's opening patter about the rats talks about how they "widdle" on everything, with a shot of one proudly peeing out in the open on someone's plate.
  • Villainous Harlequin: The garishly-dressed Pied Piper is a secondary villain, who tries to kill Keith and Malicia by shoving them into his oven.
  • Way Past the Expiration Date: Malicia offers Maurice some fish heads and "hardly expired" milk when he and Keith first visit her home. When she goes to pour the milk, however, she has to shake it out because it's become gelatinous and sticks in the bottle.
  • Well, This Is Not That Trope: The film begins with a Story Book Opening of the sickeningly sweet Mr. Bunnsy Has an Adventure. After a couple of pages Malicia, narrating, slams the book shut and explains that she's going to be telling a very different story to that one.
  • Wham Shot: For the first portion of the film, the plot is interspersed with short scenes of Malicia in her library narrating its events. When Keith and Maurice enter a house looking for food, Malicia suddenly comes downstairs and catches them, revealing that she's actually a main character within the story itself.
  • The Worm That Walks: The Boss Man is a swarm of rats in a coat and hat, controlled by the Rat King. Oddly, taking a section from an entirely different book, as the Nac Mac Feegle did this multiple times in the Tiffany Aching series.


Video Example(s):


The Pied Piper

The Pied Piper uses his magic flute to control Keith and Malicia and force them into his oven. Fortunately, Mr. Clicky distracts him long enough to break his control.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / PeoplePuppets

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