Very rarely am I generally impressed with a movie, but that’s my reaction to the latest Pixar effort, Ratatouille.
First off, I have to say that the animation was incredible. There’s a lot of water in this movie [we’re at rat level, in the sewers], and it’s so realistic that the animators seem to have cheated and put drawn characters in real water. Also the huddling scampering movement of rats is elegantly choreographed, and the aforementioned slapstick puppeteering comes off with gleefully loose and liquid lines.
More than technical surprises, though, Ratatouille boasts an arc and series of concerns unusually grown-up for an ostensible kids’ movie. Sure, the plot follows the old “finding your place/following your heart” stereotype, but the story has darker, serious shadings. Because Remy is trying to insinuate himself into the human world, where people have an almost instinctive fear and hostility toward rats, his success never seems assured. Threatened by shotguns [in a hilarious introductory scene in a French cottage in the countryside], rat traps and chef-wielded carving knives, Remy and clan have a precarious existence; Remy’s desire to overcome humans’ revulsion and collaborate with them never seems fully assured. Health inspectors and other forces of sanitation provide plot momentum, but also provide a useful, realistic sobering check on the stupid bootstrapping philosophy espoused by so many Disney movies [“If you can dream it, you can be a magnificent success”]. So many Disney animated films are just unrealistic masturbatory whack-off wish fulfillments, but Pixar is slightly more subtle in its treatment of aspirations.
For another bonus, there are no singing animals — thank freaking God! — and no humans talking to rats. Though they talk to one another, the rats just squeak as far as humans are concerned, so Remy and Linguine communicate through very amusing pantomime.
I also just have to mention that we saw a trailer for Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,
We also saw a trailer for Wall-E, which looks like a knock-off of whatever the hell 1980s movie that was where No. 5 became sentient and ran around screaming, “No disassemble!”
And a trailer for Mr. Bean’s Holiday. C’mon, Rowan Atkinson. You’re so freakin’ good in Blackadder! Surely you can do something fresher and slightly cleverer than stale, retreaded slapstick!
Wake me up when Stardust comes out. Despite my fear that it will be a thoroughly formulaic, thematically light fairy tale [Neil Gaiman is not notable for significant depth], it does have some good actors in it and possibly some nice swordplay. Alternatively, I’ll check into The Golden Compass, just to see how much of a compressed turd they make out of a good book by putting a Scientologist nutball as one of the lead characters [unless I’m wrong and Nicole Kidman swore off the space aliens
Ponzi scheme religion once she broke off from Mr. “Not Gay No Way” “Big Nose” Cruise].