This week, we watched the short Lifted, the feature Ratatouille, and the short Your Friend the Rat.
We started with Lifted, which was the theatrical short film that played before Ratatouille. This fun little story is about an alien who is in training for a job on Earth. He needs quite a bit of work before he can do this job without supervision and watching him fail time and time again is quite funny. For the audience, that is, not for his supervisor. This is a simple, yet charming short and is sure to make you smile.
Ratatouille, released in 2007, is one of the more underrated of Pixar’s films. Among Pixar list’s, this one usually doesn’t make the top cut. Nevertheless, it is a enjoyable journey with engaging characters (both the human and rodent kind), great music, and a good moral of being true to yourself.
Ratatouille follows the story of Remy, an aspiring chef whose idol is Paris’ beloved Chef Gusteau. There is only one problem: he is a rat, and his kind don’t appreciate food the way he does. However, this doesn’t stop him from trying to try new flavors and enjoy the art of good cooking. This gets him into some trouble as he attempts to steal food from a human and gets caught and then separated from his family. The story really starts when Remy meets a fellow aspiring chef, a human named Alfredo Linguini. The problem with Linguini, however, is that he cannot cook. Together, they decide that they should work together to create delicious food for Gusteau’s famous restaurant.
After watching this again after several years, I can see that this does not stand up as well to some of Pixar’s other films. Despite being charming and fun, it is not as memorable as the likes of films such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo. However, it is a step up from Cars and is obviously made with a lot of love and passion from director Brad Bird and everyone involved. One of the things that sticks out to me about Ratatouille is its animation: never before have I seen animated food look as beautiful as it does here and also the city and atmosphere of France is present and adds greatly to the film.
Though all the characters are enjoyable to watch, I particularly like the character of Anton Ego. I find the idea of this hardened food critic utterly fascinating. Much of this is due to his character design and the voice work of legendary actor Peter O’Toole. Also, his monologue at the end is a perfect way to end the film. Speaking of the ending, this is one of the aspects of the film that weakens it for me. Without spoiling anything, the conclusion of the story is a bit strange and doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie, at least not for me. Apart from that, Ratatouille is a good watch. Though it isn’t Pixar at its very finest, it has so many of the right ingredients (pun intended) that make it a worthwhile viewing.
This week concluded with Your Friend the Rat, which I feel, frankly, is a complete waste of time. Even from someone who enjoys Ratatouille, there is nothing much that this short offers except for useless “facts” about rat history and culture. Unless you are a Pixar completest, skip it.
Next week, we’ll be watching the short Presto, feature film WALL-E, and short film BURN-E.