Monday, November 12, 2007

Ratatouille: Grade B

Ratatouille (2007)
Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter O’Toole, Janine Garofalo (voices). Writer and Director Brad Bird, Co-director Jan Pinkava.

I give this movie a B rather than a C because of fine animation (except for the oddity that Remy, the main rat, was blue). Pixar has set a standard for animation that few others will be able to achieve. The tone does not strive to virtual reality, but conveys a magic world, like Snow White did in another generation. But the narrative content has the stamp of the Disney pablum “message” (Never give up your dreams; anyone can achieve anything...), and despite a few witty lines, the script is prosaic. O’Toole, the implacable food critic, is by far the best character and the best voice, but we don’t get much of him. I also wanted more food jokes, garbage jokes, cooking jokes, satire of the haute cuisine world, parody of French food obsession, even more rat jokes, something, anything that would convey the comedic point of the movie. But there is no point. It’s just rats acting cute. And how cute can rats really be? When the kitchen is seething with thousands of them, it’s creepy. The animation is so precise that when they move, they really do look like scurrying rats, and that’s creepy too. Maybe kids wouldn’t mind, since they do not associate rats with the Plague and so on. But I think kids need more than cute characters to sustain them and even the pernicious Disney glorification of individualism seems like an afterthought.

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