Thursday, July 05, 2007

Movie Log: Ratatouille

I've been a big Pixar fan since Toy Story 2 hit video (my kids were just a bit too young when it was out in theaters), so I was sorry to say unkind things about Cars last year. (Though I still stand by them; Cars is a decent animated movie, but also Pixar's biggest artistic failure to date.) So I was thrilled to see that Ratatouille was a return to form, and another contender for the crowded throne of "best Pixar movie ever."

(Parenthetically, Brad Bird's Pixar track record is now 2-for-2, with this and The Incredibles, while Pixar high muckety-muck John Lasseter is only 2-for-4, counting Cars and A Bug's Life as relative disappointments compared to the two Toy Story movies. And now I really do have to find time to see The Iron Giant, even if my kids don't want to.)

Ratatouille is a joyful, fun movie from beginning to end; it creates an incredibly detailed and real world to delight in; and only the fact that it's about talking animals (and is animated) really pegs it as a "kids" movie. It's not, really -- it's not even a "for the whole family" movie, since that usually means "the kids will like parts, and the adults will like other parts." Ratatouille is not a movie of parts; it's one story, told right, about a character who wants something it would be nearly impossible to have...but manages to do it.

I knew this was a good Pixar movie because I teared up -- as I did (I'm not proud) during Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story 2. This time, though (without giving anything away), I got misty-eyed because of the emotions of the bad guy, which was really surprising.

I can't really talk about that turn at the end, which is absolutely wonderful, and shows an amazing generosity from Bird and the Pixar team, without giving it away, but it is splendid, and it pulls Ratatouille even further from the plot-by-numbers insipidity of most animated films.

In short: Ratatouille is a great Pixar movie, which means its as good as anyone's movies. (And it also has the advantage that even my nine- and six-year olds could appreciate and enjoy it, which most great movies don't.)


Ray said...

You really really really need to see The Iron Giant.

Jess Nevins said...

One of the many splendid things about Ratatouille was, as with the twist at the end, it managed to avoid cliches at nearly every turn, and give us surprising and yet entirely reasonable plot twists.

As a rat owner, I was expecting to enjoy the film but shake my head at the inaccuracies. There weren't many at all, and they portrayed both the rat scamper and the way rats walk while holding something in their mouths accurately.

Bookhorde said...

Ah, it makes sense that the Bad Guy's true colors would touch you. I liked his integrity.
I thought it would be creepy (I hate rats myself), but it was charming.
The rat scamper was great, and so were the wet book pages -- amazing.
My personal favorite bit was when Linguini asks Remy "But you can cook?" and Remy does that oh-so-Gallic shrug. So great.

Kate said...

Yes, you must see the Iron Giant. My oldest was 3 when that came out on DVD and it was the only movie he would watch for months (then we got him Kiki's Delivery Service, and then that was all he would watch for months. Sheesh, 3-year-olds). It's a wonderful film.

Anonymous said...

I don't normally tear at movies, but Monsters, Inc is always on my Netflix queue. As soon as I watch it and send it back, I put it at the bottom of the queue again. Same with Galaxy Quest. You should see Iron Giant, I thought it was great.

Anonymous said...

I liked Ratatouille, too, but somewhere along the way it needed to get rid of at least one chase scene. All that bit about "You can't do this, you're a RAT. It's not your place" could also have been edited down.

Hrumph. I'd like to see a daringly subversive movie with the message, "There is a proper place in this world for you, and if you stray from it you will fail badly and make a big mess."

Jim Stewart said...

I usually hate it when people do this, but if I was standing in front of you I'd be saying "You haven't seen Iron Giant yet? Go get it! Now! I don't care that you're in the middle of dinner. Put down your fork. Get up and drive to the video store."

Not only does the movie get right to the heart of a time & place (New England in the '50s), it gets right to the heart of what's bad and good about America.

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