17 July 2007

Ink Blots LXXII - Ratatouille

One word that sums up Pixar characters for me is "endearing." When I first heard about Pixar's new prject involving a french rat, I was a tad disappointed. It didn't sound like a good way to follow up the great Incredibles or Cars. After all these films, I guess part of me just keeps expecting one of them to stink. How many film companies can boast 8 great films in a row, or a flawless track record. Even their weakest film, A Bug's Life, has some great moments and is still a good movie. I figured that Ratatouille would be Pixar's first big misstep. But man, was I wrong. This was a fantastic film.

By the time I learned that Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, was directing Rats, I started to have hopes, but I admit I was most excited to see this movie simply because it was Pixar. Hopefully their reputation earns Ratatouille its deserved audience because this is another Brad Bird masterpiece. While it may not be Pixar's biggest money maker, it will surely always be a bright spot in Pixar's fine catalog.

Enough of all that, onto the movie.

Remy is a rat that loves to cook and idolizes the late chef Auguste Gusteau who was humiliated by a villainous food critic, and then died. Remy finds himself one day in Paris and sees Gusteau's restaurant and the chance to bring it back its lost glory. Fortunately he finds a boy that needs to cook but can't and the two work out a system to create magnificent food. I really can't say more without giving away a lot of plot, but there is a lot of character development for "tiny chef" Remy and his rat friends as well as the boy chef Linguini. Along with the food critic on the prowl there is another chef that has a grudge against Linguini and wants to "spoil his soup."

The brilliance of this film is that while the rats can talk to each other, they can't actually talk to humans. They can just nod etc. The idea of a rat in the kitchen is as repulsive to the characters as it is to you or me as they are crusty little garbage eaters both off screen and on. But Remy is different. He washes his hands, tries to walk only on his hind legs to keep the front paws clean, and stays out of the garbage. Much of the film offers a rat's eye view of the world with wide angle shots and running through little tunnels. And as it turns out the Parisian setting makes a new and distinct Pixar world.

After Flushed Away, I wondered if Ratatouille would really stand out. Its usually the first to the screens that gets the glory as was the case of Madagascar vs The Wild. But no fears, even though Remy himself gets "flushed away" at one point, in the battle of the rats, Remy is a clear winner earning Pixar and Disney another A.


finky the kid said...

Saw this over the weekend and it truly exceeded my expectations. I also had doubts and up until the final full trailer really felt Pixar might be falling on their face this summer.

But I was wrong.

In fact, I don't think Ratatouille has gotten enough acclaim in a summer full of overblown action movie sequels. The film was well written/directed/scored. It was Pixar's top quality product, second only to the Toy Story movies and tied with Incredibles for 2nd place for me.

But oddly enough, I find many people not knowing "what it's about" or "if it's any good". Hopefully the buzz builds in time for its DVD release.

And for what it's worth, the same guy scored Ratatouille as the Incredibles, so if you liked the jazzy throwback sounds of Incredibles...

Chip Chief said...

I didnt realize that it was the same composer, but I really did enjoy the music from both films. I like me some swanky jazz.