Saturday, May 22, 2010

"That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? "

Film: "Ratatouille"

Release Date: 29 June 2007

Director: Brad Bird. Jan Pinkava

History: "Ratatouille" had an interesting history. Originally the brain child of "Geri's Game" (Pixar's award winning short from 1998) director Jan Pinkava in the early 2000's. He created the core story and ideas for the key characters, sets, and style for the film. It was meant to be the first Pixar film with a European flair about it as well as Pinkava's film debut as director. But then in 2005, the studio lacked confidence in his direction and approach and called in "The Incredibles" director Brad Bird to take over as head director. Pinkava stayed with Pixar a while more to finish up a few duties at the studio, and then left, being very tight lipped about his feelings or story of what happen. Bird came in a re-wrote the story by giving Skinner and Colette larger roles and killing off Gusteau as well as making the rats more rat like and less anthropomorphic in appearance.

"Ratatouille" was also meant to be the first Pixar film free from commitments from Disney. After tension between Pixar CEO Steve Jobs and then Disney CEO, Michael Eisner, about the terms of the contract between the two companies, 'Cars" was originally set to be the last Disney distributed Pixar film (as it was the fifth film in the five picture deal they had signed, with Disney not counting "Toy Story 2" because it was a sequel) and "Ratatouille" would be the first Pixar film distributed by another studio. Much of this came beside the feud over "Toy Story 2" also over the fact that Pixar felt that even though their film were making millions of dollars (their first five films grossed over $2.5 billion) that Disney was enjoy the fast majority of the profits even though all Disney did was market and distribute their films. There was further contention was the fact that Pixar had no copy rights on their own films and characters, Disney did. Meaning Disney could make films with Pixar characters without Pixar. This lead to "Toy Story 3" originally being a Disney only film. More on that in the review for that film, but after some shake ups at Disney in 2005 that lead to Eisner stepping down at Disney, and new talks with Pixar by new Disney CEO Bob Iger that lead to Disney merging with Pixar, "Cars" became the first film under the new Disney-Pixar banner with "Ratatouille" suddenly the second.

While a soft box office opening for Pixar in the US (still coming in number one for it's opening weekend, but with $47 million instead of the higher numbers Pixar film normally get) but became the highest grossing animated film in France, where the film takes place. It was also a critical darling despite the fact that's it's main villain was a critic. It went on to win a number of awards including the Academy Award for best Animated Film.

My Reaction: "Ratatouille" came out during a very busy Summer Movie season, at least for me it was. "Spider-Man 3" and "Fantastic Four 2" both came out that summer as well as the third film in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise and "Stardust." Add to that in the animation world during or just prior to "Ratatouille's" release the third "Shrek" film, "Meet the Robinsons," and "Surfs Up." Of course with both the second "National Treasure" and "Enchanted" both coming out later in the year, there were many films that caught my attention in 2007 and I'll be the first to admit, if "Ratatouille" had not been a Pixar film, I most likely would have skipped it with so many other movies that I shelled out the big bucks to see.

But after seeing it again, it reminded me that while not my favorite Pixar film, I'm still happy I saw it and even happy I own it. Some of the nuts and bolts about cooking, while happy they were there to show the proper flavor the film was going for (no pun intended), I found bored me at times. But one thing I very much was in awe by way how organic they made made the food look in the film, even though it was made by computers. Clearly the medium is reaching new heights these days. I also enjoyed similar to "Mulan" how one person, or in this case rat, can make a difference.

My Wife's Reaction: She, like most women I've ran across with this film, seemed grossed out by the rats at times. But she very much appreciated much of the story and that the rats sanitize themselves before cooking at the end.

My Final Grade:
(B+) While not amongst the list of my favs from Pixar, still a good film. I enjoyed the lessons from the film and the determination Remy had in living his dream and not letting others stand in his way.

All images copyright Disney/ Pixar. All rights reserved.


  1. I love this movie! For some reason, rats in the kitchen doesn't gross me out at all, I find it probably the funniest thing in the film :D

    This movie inspires me, it came out the same year I was taking an animation class, everyone at my table was thrilled to see it. The details to the oxygen bubbles in the bread is astounding! Who thinks of paying such close details?? Whenever I cook, I love to listen to this movie's soundtrack. I think it improves the cooking.

  2. Here's a fun story about this movie...

    When it came out I was a dishwasher at a bar and grill in Dover, New Hampshire. The head chef was a man from Monserrat named Leslie Reynolds. Not only was he a great cook he was also an amazing man. He once tried to teach me how to cook, and I was so worried about me messing up that I often frozen, and I felt really bad because I let him down.

    Me and my friends then go see this movie and I was shocked to see how personal this film was. I mean, the very first thing you hear Gusteau say is "Anyone can cook". To me that is an expression of how anyone can do anything if you put your mind into it.

    The more the film progressed the more I saw myself in Remy and Linguini. Remy was my ambitious side eager to learn and Linguini was my clumsy but well meaning side. The way that relationship developed moved me until the film's ending.

    Anton Ego's speech at the end moves me every time I hear it because its so true: the world is often unkind to new talent.

  3. For me I loved how Ego tuned out to be a good guy at the end, he just needed the right nudge in that direction. I loved how it was good food that did that. But I don't think it was just the food. The food represents the hard work, love and determination the is inside Remy. The thing I have always taken away from this film is Remy's determination to go against the stereo-types and just do what he loved to do: cook!

    I think it easily can help to inspire anyone, not just in cooking, but in life.