Ratatouille

Ratatouille PosterRatatouille was stewing in the back of Pixar’s mind for quite some time. Work on the film started back in 2001 when Jan Pinkava came up with the concept and began working on the film’s original design. While he had some good ideas, Pixar’s management did not have faith in his ability to fully develop the story, so in 2005 they replaced him with Brad Bird. Bird was attracted to the film both for its outlandish concept and because the very nature of the film promised a highly physical comedy. Under his leadership, the story was re-worked and the rats’ design was made less anthropomorphic.

As with each of their previous films, the animation in Ratatouille has improved by leaps and bounds. The number one challenge for the animators was food. How do you make animated food look believable, let alone delicious?! The animators consulted gourmet chefs and even attended culinary school to an authentic look for both the kitchen and the food prepared in it. Water was another challenge to overcome. Water and fire are two incredibly difficult things to animate and Ratatouille contains several scenes involving lots of water.

Despite a very low opening weekend, the film rose over time to become Pixar’s fifth highest grossing film, and the highest grossing animation in France!

The Piece-de-Resistance!

The heart of Ratatouille is not “Anyone can cook.” The real message of the film is that if you are persistent, and don’t allow other people’s preconceived notions to get in your way, anything is possible. Remy, a rat, has always dreamed of creating new and fresh culinary masterpieces. His father, as well as the other rats in his colony, are insistent in their belief that rats and people don’t mix. But when Remy meets a young man who needs to cook, but can’t, they learn that by working together (another good theme the film holds) they can create masterpieces!

Another theme found in the film is the value of friendships, including unusual ones. Also present are elements of honesty, loyalty, and respect.

The Garbage Bin

No film is perfect, and Ratatouille is no exception. The biggest concern found in the film is Remy’s initial disrespect for his father’s opinions. He can’t stand his father’s views on life and disobeys his commands behind his back. Only after he loses his entire family does he realize how much he needed them, and eventually, how right his father was. Fortunately, father and son come to better understand each other by the film’s conclusion.

Also of concern is the slight dash of foul language, one instance of drunkenness (though it is not presented in a good light), and a romance between two of the humans. Mention is made of an illegitimate birth, but it is handled quite well.

In Closing

Ratatouille is a very well done film and while I wouldn’t consider it to be one of Pixar’s best, it is still very enjoyable. Unless of course, you don’t like the idea of rats in the kitchen!

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