Wednesday, January 09, 2008


A Bird in the hand

By Edward Copeland
Could it be possible that Brad Bird could single-handedly save Pixar from the movie rut it's been in of late with efforts such as Cars? Ratatouille, much like Bird's The Incredibles, is another winning animated film, even if, like The Incredibles, it's a bit too long. Overall though, Ratatouille proves even more satisfying that Bird's previous film.

You would think at some point, the depth and astounding capabilities of this type of animation would stop surprising a veteran moviegoer, but Ratatouille produces many, truly astounding images.

What makes the films of Brad Bird so special is that they seem to avoid most of the formulaic pitfalls that other animated movies, be they Disney or Pixar or someone else, plunge into. If you just think about the plot of Ratatouille: a rat living in the sewers of Paris wants to abandon his family's scavenger ways and become a renowned chef. It's reminiscent of my recent talk about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with its elf who wants to be a dentist.

Another aspect that I loved about Ratatouille is that, though its main rat Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) can read and speak, he never speaks to the human characters: Only his fellow rodents can hear him.

The other great thing about Ratatouille is its talented vocal cast, including the superb Peter O'Toole as a food critic who lives to slay chefs and restaurants. Using only his voice, O'Toole's turn as Anton Ego might be a better performance than the one in Venus he was nominated for last year.

Ratatouille is just a joy and here's hoping more animators learn from Bird and the cookie-cutter plots start to fall by the wayside in other animated films.

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That scene where Anton Ego eats the ratatouille choked me up big time. What a great scene!

O'Toole gets the dirtiest line ever uttered in a cartoon: "If I don't like it, I don't SWALLOW!" And I agree, he is 10 times better here than in that piece of shit Venus.
Well said Ed.

Pixar is getting a bit formulaic in its approach. I was very disappointed in Cars and the fact that everything they produce seems to gross massive amounts of money, I don't think there is that desire for excellence anymore. Bird has changed that though. He is an excellent storyteller. I also love The Iron Giant.
i'm glad you liked ratoille it's my favorite of 2007 so far (there's still a few i need to catch)
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