(2007) dir. Brad Bird
viewed: 06/30/07 at AMC Loews Metreon 16 with IMAX
Director Brad Bird has emerged as Pixar’s top filmmaker, starting with his pre-Pixar traditional cel animation feature, The Iron Giant (1999), and again with his first Pixar film, one of their best, The Incredibles (2004). Ratatouille only ups his batting average to 100% (okay shaky statistics there, but you get the point). Pixar has had the market cornered on the best animation design quality and effects, notable in even some of their weaker films, like Finding Nemo (2003) or their fairly wretched Cars (2006). But actually, after Cars, I had to wonder if they still had the market cornered on quality versions of traditional Hollywood narrative films.
Well, Ratatouille is probably among the best of their output. It’s so different from The Incredibles that it’s hard to compare, but it’s a well-made, fun film with clever characters, an original storyline (unheard of these days), and a deft handling of the narrative, keeping it entertaining and interesting throughout the duration.
I’d read a lot about the marketing concerns over depicting a rat as the protagonist of a film because rats are so globally despised, but this struck me with a lot of irony. My son loves rats. It’s his favorite animal. And from the moment (nearly a year ago — thanks to way too far in advance marketing) that he saw the trailer, he was totally excited about it. And he loved the film, as did my daughter, far more than any other film that I have taken her to.
I don’t have much analysis to attach to the story of a rat who yearns for fine food and ultimately to be a chef in a five star restaurant,…the contrast of the irony is inherent and the message about self-belief and self-realization are all there. Nothing too interesting to discuss.
Hey, the bottom line is that this is one heck of a good movie, the good ol’ American kind, perhaps the rarest type of film out there these days.