Ratatouille My Reviews 27 SEP 2007

RatatouilleLast night Chantelle and I hit the cinema yet again, this time to catch Pixar and Walt Disneys latest release, Ratatouille. I’ve enjoyed almost all the Pixar releases to date and thus entered the cinema with high hopes of another Pixar classic. It started off well enough with a pretty good Pixar short like they always do (Aliens in training!), but from there it was a bit of a downhill ride I’m afraid.

Ratatouille tells the story of a rat named Rmy who lives in a rat colony in the attic of a French country home with his brother mile and father Django. Rmy is not like other rats though; he has a highly developed sense of smell and yearns to better his life. He doesnt like to walk on all fours and most importantly he loves to cook. Inspired by Frances recently deceased top chef, Auguste Gusteau, Rmy tries to live the life of a gourmet chef.

An unfortunate incident however forces the colony to abandon the house, and Rmy manages to get separated from the pack. Lost and alone, Rmy finally makes it above ground, finding himself in the glorious city of Paris, and coincidentally, right next to Gusteaus restaurant, now managed by a certain, slightly shifty, Chef Skinner.

This is where Rmy and the loser, with no culinary talent whatsoever, Alfredo Linguini’s paths cross. Linguini is looking for work, Rmy wants to be a chef, and by combining their skills, they might just become Paris’ hottest new talent in the kitchen!

Perhaps a person walks into a Pixar movie with certain expectations. Perhaps I’m being a little unfair, but as far as I am concerned, Pixar have missed the mark with Ratatouille. The film story is too long, the pacing is too slow, there isnt enough material for kids to really enjoy and laugh out loud, and to be honest, the movie fails to really build an emotional connection with you, something that most of Pixars earlier works attempted to do.

But don’t get me wrong, just because I didnt really enjoy it as much as I feel I should have (neither did Chantelle, which means I’m not the only one who walked out feeling negative about it, thank goodness), Ratatouille is a brilliant piece of technical work. This being a CG animated movie, the focus must go to the visuals, and damn, they were brilliant. Pixar have upped their game once again, producing some of the most detailed and realistic visuals ever shown, ranging from complex liquid/water scenes to the most stunningly textured and lighted food models ever produced.

They seemed to have now solved the underwater equations completely, with an underwater scene that is purportedly 100 times more complex than the whale scene from Finding Nemo and so realistic you cant help but feel they used real water. They have gone to extreme lengths to correctly show wet clothing, right down to the opacity in materials caused due to water absorption. And the lighting is the most complex ever seen actually, if you know anything about CG graphics then it is imperative that you see this movie just to see what they have managed to do!

The character models are stunning as always, with Pixar going for the usual cartoonish look and feel for their characters, shying away from photo realism (except of course for the objects and backgrounds the characters interact with). Animation wise, everything is as smooth and detailed as always, with the lanky combination of Linguini and Rmy providing the animators with tons of moments to really have fun with human physics.

The voice actors all do a terrific job and a person really is spirited away to this French kitchen world. The realism of the props and backdrops, combined with the authentic background and prop sounds makes total immersion quite possible in this movie.

I could go on an on about the technical prowess of this movie, and to be honest, it deserves all of this praise.


And this is a big but, I do feel that director Brad Bird missed the mark in the pacing of the story, and that really hurts what could have been a really excellent movie experience. The story is slow and takes ages to build up and a person cant help but feel quite bored half way through the movie, yearning for something to happen. In fact, the movie feels like it runs for 7 hours instead of its 110 minutes, which no matter who you ask, is a bad thing.

The story carries all the usual high handed moral and feel good trappings you have come to expect from a Pixar movie, teaching kids (and adults) a good lesson, so at least kids should get something out of it.

Maybe I’m getting to old to appreciate these kind of movies anymore, but I feel safe in my comments above, simply because I didnt see a single person leave that cinema in an excited state. No kids bouncing up an down, no one laughing, just everyone filing out of the cinema in silence.

Ratatouille is a brilliant piece of technical work, but Brad Bird missed the mark a little in the story execution, which unfortunately may just ultimately kill it for some.

Oh yes, it is more of a physical comedy than a written one, meaning if you don’t find people/animals running into things funny, you are not really going to laugh at this one

Ratatouille 1Ratatouille 2

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille_%28film%29

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.