Written and Directed
by Brad Bird
Running Time: 1:50
Ratatouille was a beautifully animated, sweet movie that wasn't the best Disney/Pixar film, but was still a lot of fun.
What do you do when you're a rat who loves the finer things in life? That's the question Remy has to deal with every day. All he wants to be able to do is eat the finest food and create the most amazing meals on his own. There's just that small problem of being a rodent. But when he's separated from his family he finds himself on the streets of Paris just outside one of the most famous restaurants in the city. He ends up befriending the spastic Linguini and together they set the Parisian food world on its collective ear. But how long can they keep up the charade before the entire city realizes the best chef in Paris is a rat?
After last years disappointing Cars I didn't have the highest hopes for Ratatouille. There is no longer that buzz in the air when a new Pixar film comes out. Computer animated films seem to come out once a month so the anticipation levels have dropped. But there is still that name recognition that comes from a Pixar film and they've had a boat load of success over the years. So while Pixar films are no longer 'events' there is still that expectation of something special. Even for a film about a rat who wants to work in a kitchen. There was a lot of talk about how this movie was going to be a tough sell since it centers on a rat, but I never worried too much about that. If Pixar can make fish adorable, they can certainly make a rodent cute.
The first thing I noticed about the film was how amazingly fluid the animation looked. There were a lot of times where the 'camera' would follow Remy the rat up and down pipes, through tight spaces and it felt like you were right there with him. I really didn't believe animation could get any better than it already is, but Ratatouille proved me wrong. There are still heights animation can reach and this movie showcased a lot of the good. The picture was still as sharp and realistic as ever. There are scenes where you really feel like you're overlooking the city of Paris and when Remy gets separated from his family, the trip he takes down the sewer system was intense.
But even while I now realize that animation can get better, the real key to any film is whether or not the story can keep up with the visuals. I've seen a lot of movies that looked great, but couldn't hold my interest. Ratatouille's story wasn't as strong as it could be, but it was still pretty solid. Once you get past the idea that a rat could control a human by pulling his hair of course. I thought it was interesting that they had an American voice a rat in Paris. I can understand the idea that a rat wouldn't necessarily have an accent, but it seemed funny that the universal accent for a rat is American. I wonder if that was a subtle dig at our culture. The plot revolved around not just Remy wanting to be a chef, but also whether or not Linguini could possibly be the heir to the restaurant. That lead to many of the funniest scenes in the movie with the tiny little head chef Skinner who was desperately trying to hold on to what he considered 'his' restaurant. Voice almost unrecognizably by Ian Holm, Skinner was far and away the biggest scene stealer in the film. Every word, every facial expression, every reaction he had was completely hilarious.
There were a couple of downsides to the film. One was that there were a lot of times where picking up the French accents of the supporting players was kind of difficult. There were a couple of sequences where I really had no idea what someone was saying. The second problem was that there were times when the story felt really slow. Whenever Skinner or Anton Ego came on screen, things would lighten up, but some of the middle of the film felt a bit long. Anton Ego reminds me that the funniest shot in the film comes towards the end when he's re-evaluating the restaurant for the first time in years. It's a short moment that lasts all of a couple of seconds, but it might have been the funniest thing I've seen in film in a very long time.
The DVD has a few interesting extras. There's a animated short film on the history of rats which adults will find interesting, but I'm not sure kids want to see a history lesson, even if it is animated. The short film 'Lifted' which was shown before the movie in theaters is also included on the DVD. There are three deleted scenes, which don't add much to the story, but are fun to look at. The one thing about animated movie deleted scenes is that to save on production costs, they're never fully animated so they're removed at the story stage. However the first deleted scene looks like it was taken out later than normal because while it's nowhere near finished, it looks pretty good on its own. There is also a behind-the-scenes documentary and at least one Easter egg, which I found from the main menu.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Ratatouille. It doesn't make it to the top of the Disney/Pixar list, but it doesn't come anywhere near the bottom of that list. The story is probably more for adults than kids, but kids will enjoy the sights and sight gags, while adults will appreciate the food. The Academy Award nominated short Lifted comes before the movie starts, so make sure you arrive to the theater early!
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