Saturday, July 07, 2007

Movie Review: Ratatouille

I deliberately did not read past the first paragraph of Julie D's. review of this movie over at Happy Catholic. But when Hubs wanted to see a movie last night, I knew which one I did want to see--and it wasn't Transformers.

We both enjoyed Ratatouille. In fact, I raved about it so much when we got home that when DD#2 and a friend went to see it this afternoon, DD#1 agreed to drive them and take DS#2.

The animation is, IMHO, incredible. No motion capture is used, but when the lead character, Remy, is swept through the sewer, I felt like I was along for the ride. And when the colony of rats swarm into the kitchen, I felt like a colony of rats was swarming into the kitchen. In fact, I shuddered a little bit, involuntarily. The Paris on the screen looks like the Paris I visited three years ago, albeit with a little romantic memory thrown in.

But the absolutely best thing is that Brad Bird and Pixar haven't forgotten that the story is the most important part! I cared about Remy (who is a rat) and his passion for cooking. I felt his frustration as he tried to explain why he cared about food to his brother rat, Emile. I cared about Linguini, the kitchen boy, and sympathized with his awkwardness, which is both physical and social. Skinner, who was Gasteau's sous chef, is an opportunistic bad guy who is profiting from Gusteau's reputation. Colette is a tough cookie who is working her way up in what most certainly was a male profession.

And Anton Ego is a critic's critic. His goal is to make grown men cry.

As usual, Brad Bird has chosen voice actors who suit the characters, so I focused on what the characters were saying rather than being distracted by The Actor Who Is The Voice. (Much as I enjoy Meg Ryan, I found her voice and mannerisms very distracting in Anastasia. I didn't have that problem with Ratatouille.)

In my enthusiasm, I forgot to mention the short at the beginning.

The cartoon short before the main feature is a fond memory of my childhood. It let us kids know that the show was going to start in earnest and gave us time to settle down. If the main features (yes, I'm old enough to remember double features) were Disney movies, then the shorts were Disney cartoons featuring Mickey or his pals. Other studios used Looney Tunes or Woody Woodpecker.

Pixar shorts are produced in-house. I'm not sure if they're exercises or skits that were not long enough for a feature. But this one is pretty funny and is done without any dialog. Just facial and body expressions--which is rather challenging since everything is animated!

By the way, Hubs and I weren't the only child-free adults in the audience. There was at least one other couple who I suspect were "foodies" because they were laughing harder than almost everyone. But then, The French Laundry, a famous French restaurant in San Francisco, is thanked in the credits. (I wonder if their "research" included lunch? And, if so, is it a write-off?)

And, yes, John Ratzenberger is a voice in this Pixar feature, too. Don't peek--see if you can figure out who he is!

There are lots of positive messages in this movie, but I didn't feel like I was being hit over the head with them.

Definitely a movie for the entire family. Perfect summer entertainment. Will probably add this to the Christmas list when the DVD is released.

On the March Hare scale: 5 out 5 Golden Tickets