neoyi: (Knight Baby)
[personal profile] neoyi
Let’s take a look at Brad Bird’s general track record. He involved himself The Simpsons episodes pre-Season Ten, during a time when that show was worth religiously sitting your ass down for (though I admit continuously doing this through nostalgic fan support), he made the Iron Giant, a fantastic film of a boy and his giant robot, and recently, he took his brainchild to Pixar and created The Incredibles which was incredible, among others--not to mention he spoke on his high level of respect towards animation which I wholeheartedly agree on. Well, I’m here to tell you that his next film (originally Jan Pinkava’s idea before passing it onto Brad Bird), Ratatouille (aside from being a pun) is every bit as good as you’d expect from the minds of Pixar (and Brad Bird).

It was great satisfaction that my hope for Brad Bird (one of the few people I have high expectations and respect for) to create another winner came into fruition...and it did. I usually wait till a movie’s out for a week or two because I can’t handle the large amounts of crowds and even worse--considering the film is an all-age animation--children. Movie theaters breed annoying, talkative children, but I didn’t care (not to mention there were surprisingly quiet). Brad Bird’s involvement with the film, the fact that it came out of Pixar demands I go as soon as possible, sit my ass down, watch the movie, and come out with a wide smile on my face.

Remy lives with his family in a rat colony, serving as a rat poison checker due to his heighten sense of smell over others. Unfortunately he’s insanely unsatisfied with stealing and eating food--mostly garbage. He is inspired by the late famous chef cook Gusteau (who periodically serves as his guidance and figment of imagination) and his motto, “Anyone can cook”. His desires leads him to be separated from his colony and end up in Paris and notably Gusteau’s restaurant where he meets clumsy Linguini, a young boy who can't cook for shit. Fate bounds the two together as Remy literally maneuvers Linguini like a puppet by pulling his hair, controlling his limbs, creating a symbiotic relationship as Linguini cooks this side of Emeril while Remy lives his dream.

The first thing I want to tell you is how much Remy has passion and how much I liked it. He’s obsessed with food, desires it, and does whatever the hell he can to reach it. He refuses to eat garbage and is rather picky as a result (which is where I can relate because unless I’m freakishly hungry, there are certain foods I won’t eat because I am a picky eater), so he drives himself, risking life and limb to fulfill his dream--with the movie visually emphasizing that at several points throughout as we see through the eyes of a rat and how incredibly dangerous it is for a creature like him to wander into the human world, much less their kitchen. Yet he keeps going and that’s remarkable.

Along with him is Linguini, the second star of the show: clumsy, lacking any sense of self-esteem, and pretty much hopeless at what he does (he's Remy's anti-thesis), though good hearted and truly Remy’s only human friend for the majority of the film. They have great chemistry together despite their limitations of different species. Remy can’t speak to him (his words are nothing but rat squeaks in human ears), yet with simple nods and gestures, Remy gets the point across and Linguini responds, creating a dutiful friendship between the two, regardless of their ups and downs. I speak this because it's a far cry from what Happy Feet tried to obtain, but utterly failed: the main character Mumble tells humans their lack of food supply due to their kind over hunting…by tap dancing. It’s still an unbelievable attempt to do something we, in human eyes, will mostly likely NOT see, recognize dancing penguins as a sign of fish shortage. More then likely, we’d put the bird up as a sideshow attraction. The ending was hasty (not to mention it seemed to slide off HP's main point). I don’t expect it to be real, just believable with which Ratatouille delivers and then some.

Other characters deliver in their own idiosyncrasies: Colette is flamboyant and driven (and an example of touch love…literally--though I admit the love between her and Linguini just came a bit out there), Skinner, the film’s antagonist, is fast and devious, Emile is slow, but laid back, and Ego is dark, gloomy, but prideful where he’s word is law in the food business. All are involved in someway in the films, however little, creating a sense of belonging instead of uselessly standing in the background.

The story is a concept that’s been heard before: Fish out of water main hero ends up becoming the star of the attraction through a cheat (Remy), only for him to discover honesty is the best policy and often the most rewarding. It’s just another example of doing it in the right fashion. It’s not just the characters that Brad and his crew cared about, but the story built around them. They take the time to see how the characters interact, they show Remy’s life of risks and danger, they show comedy (mostly in the form of physical comedy), and they show emotions, all when they’re suppose to be needed like a well tuned machine.

The story may be about Remy, but the creators didn’t focus on him too much that the humans were completely obsolete. They actually showed a great deal of our kind, further adding the necessity of humans needed in the film in order to work out Remy’s relationship with them. Yet even by the ending, when Linguini ultimately confesses Remy as the true chef, the humans don’t accept, but storms out in disappointment (except Colette who briefly does the same, but returns). From what I can gather, humans usually do two things when they see something of the extraordinary: accept and naturally exploit it or reject and deny it every happened. The chefs reaction to Remy was a believable one (seriously, people would think you bananas for declaring a rat as a master chef). It’s believable.

The film has a happy ending, but it’s not overall satisfying (and I don’t mean that in a bad way). Nothing is made too ambitious to the point where it’s blatantly sprouted out that rats and humans can work together. Nah, in reality, Remy’s dream for respect towards rat kind is too ambitious. He was shunned. The restaurant he worked in was closed for rat infestation and aside from a handful of people; no one knows he’s the mastermind behind many fine cuisines. However, there are some people willing to take baby steps. Just listen to Ego’s review at the end. In the end, it's really about a rat's dream come true.

You know the drill: Oh, Pixar has fabulous graphics; their animations can’t be beat. It’s a tired old song, but one nevertheless that still rings truer today as it did in previous films. Whatever Pixar did in past movies, Ratatouille tops. Gorgeous watery affects that puts Finding Nemo to shame. Wet fur/clothes, distinct detailed hairs--even the quality of the appearance of bread--aces Monsters, Inc. Facial expressions (great lip movements, especially from Skinner, Ego's sudden change from cold and gray to lively and warm by end, character movements that makes the kitchen--the setting most seen--not feel dull) and great movement from both species (Remy and his kind balances human-like qualities and rat behaviors while Linguini perfectly captures physical comedy with flawless displays of twists, turns, spins, kicks, whatever), as well as beautiful graphics (anyone else “wowed” at the full view of Paris as well as the literality hundreds of rats scampering about) and intensity (several times will you see Remy manuevering the twists and turns of building structures--half the time running away from the angry humans and other giant dangers) outshines The Incredibles. It’s beautiful in every true sense, using the visual to not only look good, but to act good by making the entire thing have…character.

I’m also already impressed by the next Pixar films’ animation: WALL.E, even if it was a short teaser.

Okay, I praised the hell out of him, now go see it. Let's get to the other Pixar feature. Like most Pixar films, expect a short movie to play before the main event, namely Lifted: a short about an amateur alien trying to abduct a human as his test, only problem is that he absolutely sucks at it, causing a wide of mess and creating the most hilarious short I’ve seen in a long time. Seriously, it’s funny.

August 2007

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