1/14/08

Ratatouille (2007)

Ratatouille DVD
Patton Oswald, Peter O'Toole (Anton Ego), Brad Garrett (Gusteau), Ian Holm (Skinner)

Directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles)

IMDB Summary: Remy is a young rat in the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol is dead. When he makes an unusual alliance with a restaurant's new garbage boy, the culinary and personal adventures begin despite Remy's family's skepticism and the rat-hating world of humans.

The girls got this for Christmas, and I make a habit of watching their new films with them. Not only are Pixar movies easy for adults to watch and appreciate, the girls are occasionally scared by new, threatening scenes. I've made a point of telling Juliette that I only show her movies that end happily--except for Charlotte's Web, but she actually came away from that one with a "circle of life" attitude--but situations where the main characters are imperiled still upset Ilsa, especially.

I admit I have my Pixar faves: Toy Story and Toy Story II, of course, plus Finding Nemo and A Bug's Life. But I can take or leave Cars and The Incredible. Unfortunately, that's the category where Ratatouille belongs. The animation is still breathtaking and truly incredible to contemplate, as are the machinations the writers and animators had to go through to make rats physically functional in a kitchen. I mean, how is he gonna stir the soup or taste the ingredients? Part of the cleverness and almost all of the entertainment value is how they solved these very basic problems.

But I didn't get the emotional connection with these characters. The young garbage boy, Linguini, is just too inept and has very little agency. The portions that feature him and his new love, Collette (voiced by Janeane Garofalo), really drag. Whereas Nemo handled the split storyline very well, following Marlin and Nemo in their respective adventures, both equally entertaining and thoughtful, I wasn't as compelled with Ratatouille. In fact, until Peter O'Toole shows up for the final 20 minutes or so in a brilliant role, I was getting bored. It's a fun film, true enough, but I can't understand all the Best of 2007 style hype it's received.

The kids paid little attention the first time we watched it, but that was on Christmas Day. They were like butterflies flitting from one present to another. And while subsequent viewings have kept them entertained, I don't think it'll become on of their favorites.

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