PIXAR MASTERPIECE REVIEW: “Ratatouille” is voiced by Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens [TV series], Magnolia), Lou Romano (The Incredibles, Monkeybone), Ian Holm (Alien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer, Dogma), Brian Dennehy (Tommy Boy, First Blood), Peter Sohn (Monsters University, The Good Dinosaur), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond [TV series], Fargo [TV series]), Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia, The Last Emperor), Will Arnett (The Lego Movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ), James Remar (Persecuted, Lap Dance), and John Ratzenberger (Cheers [TV series], The Woodcarver). It is directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol) and Jan Pinkava (Geri’s Game [Short], Windy Day [Short]), who both also wrote it with Jim Capobianco (The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Remy (Oswalt), a common rat yearning to do something big in the cooking world is separated by his pack, only to wind up on the streets of Paris. In the beautiful city, Remy also stumbles upon the restaurant he has only seen on television: Gusteau’s. Looking to make his mark in the human world, Remy attempts to find a way to cook, even if it means working with a human being.
“Ratatouille” has to be one of Pixar’s most elegant pieces. Never before have they crafted something so real, so sophisticated. Some adults may think that this release is too smart for children to understand, but think again. Films like “Ratatouille” are meant to be shown to kids, as dumb animated releases do nothing for them. I remember watching this movie in theaters with my family when I was nine years old. Instead of getting lost in confusion by seeing adults on-screen go about their lives in Paris (besides the rat aspect), I was fascinated; captivated in this world of cuisine and how anyone can cook. I never thought highly of food until that film, and boy did it inspire! I recalled wanting to make great dishes like Remy when I got older because of how sacred the characters made food seem. No, this movie didn’t focus solely on making top-quality dishes for the public. It’s about a rat and his journey to become something more than what a generic rodent should be. Mix in a few more side arcs into the pot and you get “Ratatouille,” a personal favorite of mine. It’s hard to explain why such a lesser known Pixar flick works for me, but I will do my best to put it into words. There are very few times in animated cinema where the writers don’t think of the audience as idiots. Typically, animated features play it safe, offering a basic story that kids will love while they are young and adults some jokes that they can laugh at briefly. Going bold can cost money, as a simple formula holds people’s attentions longer. I’m not saying that “Ratatouille” is intelligent. Heck, they have a rat controlling a man by pulling his hair. I’m saying that instead of telling a lesson as if we are all little kids wanting to see some fun animating, they throw us into the real, gritty world of survival, while displaying how a burning passion can take anyone places. Not only was I entertained, but I also learned some things. Picking this movie apart, we first study the story. There are many inner workings that go into this tale. You have Remy’s adventure, Linguini’s uprising, Skinner’s deceptive plan, and the struggle to keep Gusteau’s afloat. For the first twenty minutes, we are shown Remy’s backstory and how he is thrusted into the working world of Paris. This is our foundation, the main story arc. I was interested in Remy, and I found his character development to be well-done. Although he had the mannerisms of a rat, he very much wanted to be human. We are set up with his dilemma, but are soon thrown into a whirlwind of characters and how they affect Remy’s story. When Linguini is introduced, things change. The plot is soon shared between the rat and human, and as they form a bond more arcs are soon to arise. I think, in general, Brad Bird did a fantastic job. It was definitely a juggling act, but he made everyone so compelling that there wasn’t really a throwaway character in sight. The only issue I can say that comes with this story is that towards the middle of the second act and into the beginning of the third, the movie loses steam. This pretty much spans across months of life, so a lot happens, and it can feel a bit congested at times. Once we are given a huge threat, that being a critic, things start to pick up again and get great. I believe that any real problem that arises in this film, that is found in the plot, is due to the troubles it had in production. It was presented to Pixar in 2000 by Jan Pinkava, the creator of the short “Geri’s Game.” He had a different vision for the release, one that would soon cause conflict between Pinkava and the studio. Pixar felt that he was unfit to helm the project, and eventually passed it on to Brad Bird, who had his own ideas about the film (some of which were killing Gusteau and expanding Colette and Skinner’s parts). I feel like, although Bird rewrote the story, there were some things in the movie that resonated with Pinkava’s original vision, often conflicting with the new details. This can make the film feel crammed, like I stated before. But, it only gets this way for about twenty minutes, so it isn’t like the whole feature is jumbled. Moving onto other aspects of this release, I must talk about the soundtrack. Michael Giacchino, the legend behind the scores for “The Incredibles” and the television series “Lost” is back at it again. He presents an eloquent and saucy score to this release that gives it its rich flavor. The accordion, piano, saxophone, and guitar are some of the instruments that highlight this film, all of which provide such a glorious soundtrack to listen to after you watch the movie. They are what give France its tone, and I love it! Next, the characters and voice actors to go along with them are top-notch. I enjoyed hearing about every single one of them, and it was a joy to see physical humor displayed with Linguini. He was probably the funniest character of this movie. They couldn’t have picked better voice actors to portray everyone, some of the best being Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Brad Garrett, and Peter O’Toole. They were fantastic. Finally, the last aspect that really ties this film together is the animation (duh). It was astounding! From the designs of the characters to the beautiful view of Paris, this movie had it all. I enjoyed seeing the small towns as well as the professional kitchen of Gusteau’s. The gleaming pots and pans created a certain glow of bronze that put out an atmosphere of fine cooking. I could go on and on, but it’s Pixar; you know you’re getting top quality animation, and this film holds up. Anything else I didn’t mention to be a con would be in small nitpicks. There really isn’t much wrong with it, besides some clutter in the story towards the end. I will tell you that, although this issue is present, the ending will make you feel good inside. The way things came to a conclusion had to be one of Pixar’s best, including Anton Ego’s review of Gusteau’s. Overall, this is a brilliant Pixar movie that takes its audience seriously. Sure, it’s a more mature animated feature than what kids are used to, but that doesn’t mean that they should be kept away from it. Broaden their minds and have them discover what Paris life and cooking is all about! FINAL SCORE: 96%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer:
And now, my review for the Pixar short, “Lifted”:
MOVIE SHORT REVIEW: “Lifted” is a 2006 Pixar short film that is written and directed by Gary Rydstrom (Strange Magic, Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation). An alien in training finds trouble abducting a human to the disappointment of his instructor.
“Lifted” has to be Pixar’s funniest short so far. I don’t know why, but something about an animated man being rag dolled around his room is hilarious. I had fun watching this short, not just because it is funny, but because it is also a fresh idea. Having an alien take a learning course on operating a UFO was hysterical and entertaining, especially when seeing the aliens’ expressions. You have the instructor, who is not impressed, and the student, who is frustrated. There isn’t much meat to this short film, as it only shows a glimpse at an alien trying to abduct a human, but it sure was fun to watch, and I think that is the biggest complement that I can give it. It’s unique in plot and even though it didn’t have much of a lesson or meaning, I still enjoyed seeing it. The animation was really good too, with some cool alien designs (basically green blobs). I recommend anyone wanting to laugh to see this short! FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the short: