Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ratatouille

The Verdict: Excellent stuff. If you liked the Incredibles, you'll really like this.

The Rating: 8/10

In sport, as in the entertainment industry, success is often a double-edged sword. Moments of triumph are fleeting for those with that winning mentality, with successes becoming former glories faster than James Cameron can say 'I'm King of the World!!' No sooner has the ink dried on the rave reviews than the sports star or creative artist must pick themselves up and ask "what's next?".

Brad Bird followed his much lauded directorial debut, 'The Iron Giant', with a real gem of an animated feature. 'The Incredibles' won Brad Bird huge critical acclaim for producing an unpatronising piece of family entertainment, and picked up the Oscar for best animated feature. Easy to forget, however, that his script for The Incredibles was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay that year.

Bird was possibly unlucky to be in the same category as Charlie Kaufman's 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' that year, but the nomination is a reflection of his ability to produce family entertainment that has something to offer kids and adults alike. At first glance, The Iron Giant and The Incredibles are straight-forward kids' entertainment, but scratch beneath the surface, as with many kids movies, and there are clear moral messages to be taken away. Thankfully, Bird's 'messages' are subtle enough to often remain implicit to the story, and the two movies I've just mentioned never descend into preaching.

However, with the success of 'The Incredibles', Bird essentially cranked up the spotlight and pointed it at himself. What next? Well, with 'Ratatouille', in my opinion he has raised the bar. It tells the story of Remy, a rat with highly developed senses of smell and taste, who dreams of more than just living on garbage and stealing food. No, Remy's idol is a chef on the Cookery Channel named Gusteau, the best chef in France, and owner of a prestigious Parisian five-star restaurant, who believed that 'anyone can cook'.

In the first few minutes of the movie, Remy is separated from his family and friends, and is surprised to find that he has been living in Paris all along. He somehow finds his way to Gusteau's restaurant, and manages to befriend an inept chef working there. Together they begin cooking gastronomic masterpieces that begin turning around the fortunes of Gusteau's restaurant, which hasn't been doing so well lately. However, the current chef at Gusteau's suspects something is up (smells a rat? - Ed), and when uber-critic Anton Ego (voiced by Peter O'Toole) gets wind of the new chef at Gusteau's, he decides to sample the wares of the new chef, providing Remy with his greatest challenge yet.

As with all involving stories, it sounds so simple, but the main characters in this movie, especially Remy (pictured above) are excellently drawn and animated. There are a million little touches in the animaton that I imagine will reward the repeated viewings of a million kids and their beleagured parents once this movie is released on DVD.

Ratatouille is a wonderfully paced, entertaining story, and Bird has pitched the moral barometer just about right, delivering his lessons more with a roadmap than a baseball bat. It's funny, immersive, and should have enough to keep kids quiet for a couple of hours, while providing more than a few laughs for the adults to boot. Of particular note for the grown-ups is Peter O'Toole's speech at the end of the movie, in which Bird insightfully describes the role of the restaurant critic, in a delightful reference to the role of any critic (ahem).

So, two hearty thumbs-up for Ratatouille from me. This movie should provide a breath of fresh air to the genre of kid's animated entertainment now that the Shrek franchise has gone more than a little stale.

Ratatouille is released in Irish cinemas on 12th October


2 comments:

Favorite Movie Reviews said...

I love this movie. Really inspiring.

hanum said...

great animation movie, more advice contained. Good.. good..

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