Review this movie
Apr 24, 2015Describe the plot of Ratatouille to most and they’ll likely turn up their nose as if assaulted by a bad smell. It’s about a rat who yearns to be a chef. That’s not cute, that’s not flip and postmodern. Couldn’t we make it a giraffe who wants to play golf, or a hippo who dreams of being a stunt-hippo, or a gerbil who aspires to play lead guitar in a heavy-metal band (please note,Describe the plot of Ratatouille to most and they’ll likely turn up their nose as if assaulted by a bad smell. It’s about a rat who yearns to be a chef. That’s not cute, that’s not flip and postmodern. Couldn’t we make it a giraffe who wants to play golf, or a hippo who dreams of being a stunt-hippo, or a gerbil who aspires to play lead guitar in a heavy-metal band (please note, second-tier animation studios - these concepts are copyright Empire)? What’s cool about a rat in a kitchen? Isn’t it, like, kinda gross?
Au contraire, mes amis. After five minutes of Ratatouille you start getting excited about the time when you can buy it on DVD to use as life therapy, like a soothing bath or a dose of Librium. It may be Pixar’s masterpiece, but why quibble over niceties when they keep delivering stories this rich?
Even amongst the Hawaiian-shirted big brains of the Pixar think-tank, Brad Bird is taking on an auteurish hue for the fabulousness of his creations.
It’s farce and poetry both, able to make thrilling gearshifts from poignant characterisation into madcap as the film spills onto the streets to create chase sequences worthy of Chuck Jones or Fred Quimby. Visually, nothing is beyond these guys. From the fineness of Remy’s fur to the rain-slicked cobbles of the City Of Lights, they somehow grant synthesised surfaces the textures of life. Yet, the animation is at once extraordinary and hardly the point. So deft is the hand of Pixar that you are allowed to take their raptures of detail for granted - the incidental art is slave to the story. Pixar are not really animators at all, but storytellers par excellence whose carving knife happens to be a computer mouse.
By the third act, the standard recipe would be for Linguini to be de-toqued, the diminutive hero exposed and the villainous Skinner to be felled. That, though, is just one of the plot strands Bird has woven. Amid the flurry of impeccably timed disaster, Anton Ego will emerge from his coffin-shaped parlour to test this unforeseen turn-around at Gusteau’s and prove a salutary lesson for any critic as to their own worth. “Surprise me,” he sneers to the waiter, with the kind of disdain normally associated with Lady Bracknell or Daily Mail readers. So fully have you sunk into this animated world, so blurred are its joins with real life, that the resulting dish (designed with the help of hip chef Thomas Keller) lifts the film to rank alongside Babette’s Feast, Big Night or Ang Lee’s Taiwanese trilogy as literally mouth-watering. Although it rather takes the Happy Meal
tie-in off the agenda.
It is impossible not to read Remy as a straight metaphor for Bird or Pixar as a whole. They are unable to let the soup sour when the perfect mix of flavours can be reached. But the message may be more democratic - not everyone can be a great artist, but true art can come from anywhere. Bird is an artist who looks deep into humans (even in rat form) and sees something magic. His films feel like gifts.
That feeling you have as you leave the cinema - that buzzing in the fingers and lightness in the heart - is called joy.… Expand
This is clearly one of the best of the year's films. Every time an animated film is successful, you have to read all over again about how animation isn't "just for children" but "for the whole family," and "even for adults going on their own." No kidding!