I had the distinct good fortune last night of attending a preview of Pixar’s newest film, Ratatouille.
In writing about this film, I tried very hard not to give any spoilers… however, if you want to be completely surprised and enchanted by this film with no expectations, don’t read my review… just go and immerse yourself in a wonderful tale without any spoilage.
Another spectacular entry from Pixar… and Brad Bird is 3 for 3 in my book. From a foodie point of view, they hit exactly upon the joy and excitement of invention and creation in a kitchen… not to mention the pure energy of a busy restaurant.
We don’t have TV in our home, so I have no idea if the trailers are getting much in the way of publicity. I did hear that all of Paris is plastered with Ratatouille posters, though! I really hope that this film doesn’t do an “Iron Giant” and disappear despite fantastic reviews, especially with the Harry Potter film hot on its heels.
The basic premise of the film is this (all of the following is easily deduced from the trailer… believe me when I say there is much, much more actually going on when you get into the theater!): Remy is a rat who loves food. Not garbage, but real, honest-to-goodness food. The introduction of the idea that food can be artistic was brilliantly illustrated. Through a few rustic experiments, he becomes even more smitten with the culinary arts, despite the discouragement of his family. A disaster lands Remy in the heart of Paris, and through a truly hilarious series of scenes, he becomes acquainted with a young gangly chef-wannabe. They determine a method for Remy, who knows his way around a kitchen, and Linguine, who can barely walk across the floor without causing himself a serious injury, to communicate, and a rising culinary star is born. The story continues and resolves most satisfactorily, adding dashes of romance, intrigue, suspense and surprise to spice things up.
One of Bird’s beliefs is that animation does not necessarily equal children’s entertainment, and this is true here… I don’t think Ratatouille is going to be the breakout children’s movie that The Incredibles was. Don’t get me wrong; I think kids will enjoy themselves. The pace is brisk and the humor continual. But there are so many layers to experience here… this movie will definitely bear up well through repeated viewings.
The visuals are tremendous, especially the views of a rat running through walls and underground. The music was also memorable, although there’s no Randy Newman-ish lyrics here.
I recognized the name John Gilkey in the credits, and indeed the loose-limbed flailing of the young chef is reminiscent of Gilkey’s physical comedy… although a 100% Animation disclaimer at the end of the movie stated that no motion capture was used. Still, i would have loved to be a fly on the wall the day Gilkey was modelling movement for Pixar’s animators! (Gilkey was the lead comic figure in Cirque du Soleil’s Qidam.)
There’s also a new short kicking off this feature: Lifted. It’s a sweet little amuse to start things off… a young alien just learning the ropes tries to abduct a snoring fellow from his farmhouse.
Even if you aren’t a Francophile or foodie, you will surely enjoy this
delectable morsel of film-making and storytelling. But if you dabble in the culinary arts, your experience will be all the better. And perhaps you too might become inspired to “get fancy with the spices” in your own kitchen!