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Ratatouille (2007)
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Review Date: February 18, 2008
Director: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
Writer: Brad Bird
Producers: Brad Lewis
Actors:
Patton Oswalt as Remy
Lou Romano as Linguini
Janeane Garofalo as Colette
Plot:
A rat with a penchant for cooking finds himself under one of the top French restaurants in Paris and decides to take a minute to visit its kitchen, and mix together a soup of his own. When the goofball garbage-boy gets the credit for the well-received soup, the rat and the boy secretly team up in order to keep the great tasting meals coming. At some point, the lead chef in the restaurant does become suspicious though, and delves deeper into the situation. Lots of stunning visuals ensue…
Critique:
Visually, this film is stunning! I mean, you can just turn the volume off and watch the amazing computer generated visuals and enjoy the film on that front, if you like, including the inspired direction by Brad Bird, with some neat perspective shots, a handful of fun action scenes and plenty of impressive graphics, including anything with hair or water (the wine in this film looked absolutely real). But an animated movie obviously has to come through on the “story and character” front as well, and in that regard, this film disappointed me quite a bit, which is even stranger to say as most everyone I know has been crowing about this movie since it was released this past summer. I personally don’t get the fuss. Other than the fact that it takes place in France and certainly attempts to tell an original tale (a rat chef…take that remake Hollywood!), the movie never really hooked me into its orbit, instead leaving me to awe at all of the wonderful goodies being showcased before my eyes, but without the additional benefit of an engaging storyline. More than that though, I think its lack of interesting characters ultimately led me to recommend it solely as a “video flick”, with the lead rat in question being the only real sympathetic character of the bunch, while the human lead was a goofball, the girl caught up in the film’s “romance” was whiny and unmemorable, the “bad guy” was the lead chef and didn’t really come off as a true threat to anyone (he just seemed bitter), and the second “bad guy” showed up with about 20 minutes left in the film and also didn’t really add much darkness to the proceedings.

For most animated films to really work for me, the bad guys truly have to inject the film with palpable dread and obstacles. I think this is one of the few Pixar films which, for me, seemed more geared toward just kids, as opposed to their usual balance of kid/adult themes. This movie featured too much emphasis on slapstick humor, rather than the pointed dialogue of their previous hits (although the cameo by THE INCREDIBLES’ Bonne Voyage was cute). Also, as much as the whole “rat” angle seemed like a horrible idea before I saw this movie (particularly when you attempt to mix rats into a friggin’ kitchen and food!!), it ultimately didn’t bother me too much, although I have to say, there were still several points throughout this movie – particularly when there was a wide shot of a school of rats scurrying around a floor – that I was disgusted by their presence, but maybe that’s because of my own personal affliction to rats? (then again, does anyone really like rats??) Also, the film was sort of reeling me into its lair early on, but when the lead rat Remy started to mesh into the human world, I got a little turned off again, as he suddenly became a mute and seemed content to be riding on top of the lead human’s skull and “handling his hair” in order to cook (you’ll understand when you see the film, but needless to say, it changed the film’s dynamics and went on for too long).

Again, I think this was a tactical mistake as Remy’s personality was growing on me, but once he became a mute and the focus was placed on the humans, I wasn’t as interested as before. And when on Earth did the lead human goof and the chick in the kitchen happen to “fall in love”? If someone can point this out to me, I’ll have to go back and watch it again, as the moment “love” was declared between them, I was as surprised as anyone, as there had been almost zero sparks or chemistry between them to that point. That said, the film will surely entertain the kids for hours, and as proven by the zillion other positive reviews out there, many adults will surely enjoy it as well, unless they too fall into the “meh” zone and agree with many of my negative points of view. The movie is a wonder to behold though, and makes you kinda wonder what animated films will look like in 5, 10 or 20 years? I mean…this is one good looking movie!! Too bad the characters weren’t all that interesting, and the storyline…meh.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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