Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Movie Review: "Ratatouille"

Pixar has steadily become one of the leading studios for entertaining films. Notice how I didn't add the qualifier of "animated". Pixar movies transcend the animation genre to achieve an all around great cinematic experience. Animated movies made by other studios are fun, but they never feel real. Pixar movies feel real, even if a toy, bug, or car is talking to the audience.

To this end, "Ratatouille" is another standout in the Pixar library. It tells the story of a rat whose dream is to cook like a human. Of course, that is not the easiest dream to accomplish considered rats aren't viewed as the most cleanly of animals. The rat, Remy, is voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt, and Oswalt has the right voice for it: slightly boyish but with an aged pathos. As stated everywhere else, making a rat a hero isn't an easy task. But Oswalt and Pixar pull it off.

There are two villains in the story, and both are cartoonish. One is the lead chef in the restaraunt Remy cooks in (through his partnership with Linguini, a neophyte cook) and one is a stodgy old critic who caused the death of the former lead chef. The villainy of both these characters were at times distracting, but the resolution of both their story arcs made up for any previous complaints. Surprisingly, the love story that forms between Linguini and Collette doesn't seem cheesy (pardon the food pun) and is quite fun to watch. Thankfully, Linguini isn't reduced to being Remy's human sidekick and is given a substantial role.

The movie blends the cartoonish world of talking animals well with the more real world of humans. Not since Toy Story 2 has Pixar tried to combine a strictly cartoonish cliche (talking nonhumans) with the plots and actions of homo sapiens. The humans look both real and animated at the same time, and the rats also look human at times. The interplay is a delight to behold.

Pixar knocks another one out of the park with "Ratatouille". The voice acting is superb enough that you don't even realize which celebrities are in the movie. Brad Bird, who also did the best Pixar movie ever, "The Incredibles", strikes again. The former consultant to The Simpsons simplies knows how to bring characters to life. He might be the best director around today.

4 1/2 Spices out of 5

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