Sunday, July 01, 2007
Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird)
Normally I will post stuff like this on my screening blog as soon as I see the movie, but given the Disney embargo on reviewing their films before the release date, I thought it best to just hold out and then post it here.
After my second viewing of Ratatouille I had a few small objections to the film that I didn't have the first time around. The biggest thing is that for some reason or other I felt a tiny bit of revulsion at the film's central storyline- namely, a rat in the kitchen. Yes, I realize that's the point of the movie, and that Bird and company are using the unlikeliness of the story to underline the film's theme, that greatness can come from anywhere, even from places where you wouldn't expect it. Yet when rodent protagonist Remy starts running around underneath human pal Linguini's chef outfit and biting him all over, I couldn't help but think of, oh I dunno, stuff like the Black Plague. No matter how much of a foodie Remy is, or how clean he fancies himself to be, this is still a concern.
But still, this is a damned entertaining film, and great technical eye candy to boot. Owning a handful of rodents myself, I appreciated the care with which the rats were animated- the movement of their little noses and the whiskers perched at the end of them, the rising and falling of their chests when they breathe, the tiny sound of their feet, and so on. Another major geek-out moment was a panoramic shot of the kitchen, in which I could see that some of the floor tiles were crooked. It's this attention to detail that sets Pixar far apart from its competition.
One objection others have made that you won't hear about from me is to the Anton Ego, the fearsome food critic voiced by Peter O'Toole. Some critics have seen this as a smear on their honorable profession by a critical favorite- Bird's no Shyamalan when it comes to critical antipathy. Yet I didn't see it that way- Bird isn't attacking critics as a group, but a certain strain of snooty critic who has let the influence afforded him by his position overwhelm his love for the food about which he writes. We're all familiar with critics like this *cough*Rex Reed*cough* and besides, it's not like Ego is the only critic we meet during the course of the film. What's more, Ego's eventual change of heart is handled with such inspired simplicity that it deserves to be mentioned with The Grinch's literal change of heart (in the Chuck Jones version, naturally) when it comes to scenes of this sort. Plus O'Toole's voice work is so bleedin' awesome here, joining such greats as Joan Cusack's Jessie, John Goodman's Sulley, Ellen DeGeneres' Dory, Holly Hunter's Elastigirl, and yes, Bird's own Edna Mode in the Pixar voiceover performances hall of fame.
Rating: 8 out of 10.