Reviews: Ratatouille

A beautifully written animated film with a few weak spots

Ratatouille is, to me, one of the most interesting and unforgettable animated achievements. It unashamedly avoids childish pandering and the generic upbeat style one would expect from an animated adventure, and yet it still manages to fascinate and impress me each and every time I watch it. This isn't an average family film. In fact, I can't even call it a family film, because it almost never feels like one. This is pure, timeless animated art. It's deliciously experimental, intelligently written, sometimes exquisitely poignant, and a bit flawed. However, the little flaws in this movie are very easy to forgive, because a film of this nature cannot be perfect, and doesn't need to be.

Ratatouille succeeds because of its rich and beautiful atmosphere. The animation is exactly the sort of standard that Pixar is good at - a magical combination of eccentricity and breathtakingly realistic design. Presented like a feature-length sitcom, the film goes at a rather slow pace, but it rarely feels like a bore because there are just so many clever plot threads to untangle. Unlike WALL-E, which features godlike animation but also an obvious and annoyingly preachy plot, Ratatouille's plot is like that of a classic novel. The characters are charming, the story constantly changes and evolves, and the film's conclusion is one of Pixar's best.

As previously mentioned, it's an experimental movie with a slightly melancholic atmosphere, but it feels right. However, this is where the flaws come in. While this film is creative, daring, mature and unconventional, it does suffer from having a bit too much story. The plot threads pile up, weave together and merge in ways that can make you lose track of what's going on. Another flaw is with the film's main character, Remy. Sure, he's pretty cute and has good intentions, but his rather pretentious, self-serving attitude can be quite off-putting at times. Finally, we don't really see enough of Paris in the movie. Too much of the movie is set indoors, so it's a shame that we don't see more of the fabulous French capital.

But I like said before, these flaws are easy to forgive, because it's still excellently crafted. The animation is delightful, the intricate story always has me coming back for more, the atmosphere is irresistibly fancy, and the conclusion is heartwarming and deep. No sequel is necessary.

The Joy of Creation

If you have ever cooked, this movie is for you. If you have ever had food made for you, by someone you love, this movie is for you. If you have created, struggled, fought with your family, or not been sure where you were- this movie is for you.

From the very beginning, this is a film that captivates it's audience- and the prevailing feeling is a desire to see the heroes succeed. Each of them in turn is sympathetic in their own right, and together you wish to see them make their way. Remy, Linguini, and Colette are easy to love, and it's not hard to see a little of yourself in one, of not all of them. Even the food critic Ego, as intimidating as he is, is made remarkably sympathetic by the end.

The portrayal of food and creation is enchanting- you can almost smell the aroma of the busy kitchen. Also this movie brings something new to the concept of 'talking animals'. It;s made clear from the beginning that humans can;t understand Rats- and that Remy;s human affectations are considered unnatural, almost taboo. While the rat society has some aspects of fantasy applied- sentient, the rafts, and the party scene spring to mind- there is the feeling of something real to them.

My family comes from hard places- in the kind of way where it was easy to believe things were the way they could only be. So the struggle of Remy finding a place for himself struck home. There is a scene where his father tries to explain to him his views, using much the same rationale. And when Remy stood against it, I know there wasn't a dry eye in my household.

In short, this movie will make you laugh, and quite likely cry. And with the skills of Pixar behind it, the message is buoyed by beautiful animation as always. And maybe by the end of it, you will feel inspired to pick up a recipe.