Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ratatouille: A Review

To describe the delightful movie 'Ratatouille' one must first describe what it's not. This is not an animated movie filled with bigger than life celebrities mugging verbally for the camera. While it is a movie that is enjoyable for adults, it is not filled with cute double entendres reaching over the heads of young audience members. Everybody in the audience is treated with respect. The animation is gorgeous, the action in parts astounding. Yet, this is not a case of a director using the pallate of animation to visually dazzle us in a way to distract us from an uninteresting story being told.

Ratatouille is a peasant vegetable dish filled with eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic and basil from the Italian border region of France.

The movie 'Ratatouille'is the story of a rat named Remy voiced by Patton Oswald. Remy is caught between the pulls of two worlds. His family survives by eating junk scavenged with no discrimination, but the great french Chef Gusteau who has passed away has a legend through books and reruns of cooking shows that lives on to inspire Remy to follow his cooking bliss. Gusteau "speaks" to Remy throughout the movie as his conscience, instructing him on what he knows to be true already, though life often conspires to make us forget these lessons.

Remy teams up with bumbling dishwasher Linguini (Lou Romano) to follow his bliss and create art and love through his passion for cooking. The movie has one dazzling scene of Remy's entrance into the kitchen of Gusteau's filled with clattering pans, burners firing in every direction, carts crashing down the lanes of the restaurant giving one a feeling of the controlled chaos in a fine dining establishment during a busy service.

Director and Writer Brad Bird has created a work of art. Just about every tone he hits is right. He often goes for a subdued feel when less sure directors would instinctively turn up the experiential noise.

The animators deserve much credit too. While the rats and the humans are stylized in a smart way, the "sets" are amazing. Scratches in seeemingly random patterns give life to copper pots and pans in the restaurant. Vegetables are sliced, beading with sweat in a way that speaks highly of the care the animators put into their work. The background of Paris is romantic, charming, both big and small all at once.

If you don't have a child, you should see this movie anyways. This was the first film that my toddler has ever sat through. Cooking is part of my bliss, and to experience the beauty of this film not only through my eyes admiring the realism in the small details, but through the imagination of a child was an absolutely magical moment.

If I actually rated movies on a 10 point scale, this would be a 9 easily. It was delightful.