>Head to Head – Ratatouille

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When it comes to debating Pixar films, the argument often sounds like this: “Was it brilliant, or just really, really excellent?” Brad Bird’s Ratatouille – the tale of a young rat who discovers his true calling in a Parisian restaurant’s kitchen – is as beloved as any Pixar film; nabbing the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2007, and landing atop many a Best of Decade list at the end of ’09. But we found someone who isn’t so fond of it. This week, Nathan Dogtaro and Quickflix critic Simon Miraudo debate the merits of Ratatouille. Read on, and share your thoughts!

Nathan Dogtaro – 2/5

I’m not saying this film is terrible, but I recently saw a list of Pixar’s films, and by far, Ratatouille was the worst. Once again, I can’t stress enough that I don’t HATE it; I just didn’t like it. First off, the animation was bad. It was ugly and unattractive. The animation from Toy Story holds up better. Secondly, the storyline was tedious. A rat that’s a cook? Who the hell comes up with that? You might as well have a caterpillar that wishes to become a mountain lion! I know it’s supposed to be wild and imaginative, but I felt like it wasn’t and it wasn’t engaging. Lastly, the voice acting was the final nail in the coffin of an unfavorable review. The accents were atrocious and it was clear that these people weren’t French. Overall, I just didn’t like it!

I consider Ratatouille to be Pixar’s finest piece of work; a delectable, flavoursome feast that only gets richer with age. It captures two senses that were heretofore uncapturable on film: taste and smell. Director Brad Bird and his fleet of supremely talented animators and storytellers are not only able to convey the sensation of tasting delicious food, but also the way in which those tastes are intrinsically linked to memories of the past, and the way in which they evoke feelings of love, lust and longing. Ratatouille on the surface may seem like a high-concept kids film (rat in the kitchen – weird!), but it’s so much more. A French farce; a romantic comedy; an appreciation of both art and art criticism; all set to the strains of Michael Giacchino’s wonderful score. Perhaps Remy the Rat’s arc – revealing to his family that being a chef is who he is – could be read as a metaphor for a young gay man coming out of the closet? Ratatouille is imbued with so many layers of powerful, lovable subtext, it requires seemingly infinite viewings to soak in. Besides, any animated film that casts Patton Oswalt in the lead deserves to be called genius!

Discuss: Where do you stand?

8 Responses to “>Head to Head – Ratatouille”

  1. >Ratatouille is without a shadow of a doubt, the weakest film to come out of the Pixar studios. There is not one film in their impressive filmography that is worse than is, except maybe Cars. The fittingly named Up is arguably the highpoint of the studio's impressive filmography, and the Toy Story trilogy is arguably the best, at least the most consistent, trilogy of all time! A Bug's Life, Wall-E, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo are all infinitely more enjoyable than this mess! When the shotgun came out and the rats were getting chased and shot at, I thought to myself "What is this? Is it 1960? Am I watching a Looney Tunes cartoon?".  Very disappointing. I expected more from Brad Bird, as I believe The Incredibles to be one of the best movies ever made. Peter O'Toole's all-too-brief appearance at the end was this film's only saving grace. Puppeteering a person by the hair on their head? Far-fetched even for a Pixar film. 2/5 for me too. Boo!

  2. >Thank You, Clayton. I'm glad someone agrees with me….

  3. >I actually more on the side of Nathan as well, although I definitely like it more than a 2/5. I didn't really like the premise, and most of the voice casting felt ill-fitting, ESPECIALLY Patton Oswalt. Probably a 3.5/5 for me at best. Also on Simon's point, wasn't there originally a sub-plot about Remy actually being gay, but Disney forced them to cut it? Not sure where I heard that…

  4. >@TomI believe that's correct Tom; the story goes that original director Jan Pinkava intended on Remy – apropos of nothing – literally coming out as a gay rat in the final scene.Pinkava was booted off the film – for a variety of reasons – and the subplot was excised. But I think that as it stands now – as a subtle allusion – is more powerful than a random final "coming out party".

  5. >My 9-year old daughter adores Ratatouille & Toy Story. Isn't a fan at all of Monsters Inc, Bugs Life & The Incredibles. Likes the bits of Cars & Wall-E only when Pixar isn't being preachy and boring (who cares about Route 66?). Argue semantics, graphics etc all you like…these movies are for kids so let them be the judges. Let's hear from other Quickflixers who have kids.

  6. >Cars is filth and Bug's Life is bad. Wall-E and Up! were great first-half film with rich potential for their second halves – which, unfortunately, were crap. Toy Story 1-3 were very well made and had some heart but quite often got lazy and used bad-tasting American cliches, rather than invent something original and appropriate. Finding Nemo is pretty good but is a little flat, layer-wise. Ratatouille is too weird for some, but it is original, multi-layered, full of detail and earnest messages and metaphores, and lovingly crafted – and thus deserves to join Monsters Inc. (my 2nd favourite) and The Incredibles (my favourite) at the top of the Pixar catalogue.

  7. >I really enjoyed Ratatouille as well, Simon. I think it's a film that's certainly harder to like, especially since it doesn't hit the expected high notes that a movie must hit. There's none of the suburban romanticism, or the knowing updated old hollywood charm, of the more successful pixar films like the Incredibles, Wall-E, and Up. It doesn't have the shine and novelty and heartonsleeves-ness of Toy Story. It's a plain cracker basically, but that was kind of why I liked it. Here you have no revamped heterosexual romances or consumerism angst. There's just this film about a rat creating art. There's this finnicky conflict with someone who's essentially his benefactor. There are these hard to understand sort of sacrifices. There's the brilliant relationship with the food critic. There's even a Proustian sip of the ratatouille! It very intelligently delves in to the idea of art, not necessarily as representation or any kind of abstract nonsense, but as a lived practice, with commerical and critical pitfalls, with sacrifice and aloneness. I don't know, I believe that anyone that likes this film is going to be in the minority. I think it's a very good film, but I don't think it 'impresses' much.

  8. Love this movie! Could watch it over and over.

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