18 October, 2007

Word of Mouth: "Ratatouille"

A rat finds he has a heightened taste and smelling abilities and gets interested in cooking.

Ratatouille is probably the greatest animated movie ever. I often say that when Pixar release a picture but that’s because they set the bar so high and they usually surpass it.

There was a debate on Shooting Screenwriters about Mark Kermode, the BBC film reviewer. Was he ‘very stupid’, ‘quite stupid’ or ‘a little bit stupid’? He suggested that the problem with Ratatouille was that it’s too good and too perfect. He would have preferred something that was rough around the edges just for the sake of it. I’m going with ‘very stupid’. Brad Bird, the writer-director has a little dig at critics towards the end which is so true.

Awarding greatest animated movie ever status isn’t done lightly and isn’t simply because of the state of the art technology at work here. As Bird says, it’s all about the story; the technology is only there to serve that story.

The screenplay was more of a rush job than usual because Bird took over a project in crisis with a fast approaching deadline. The production was due to start but the story wasn’t good enough so the producers phoned Bird on his holiday, after he wrapped The Incredibles, and asked him to take over.

The premise of Ratatouille is set in the world of haute cuisine and was considered quite risky – both for kids and adults. The buzz in the trades were about lowered expectations and how it was likely to flop amongst all the sequels. They were very wrong.

It shows that you can take a risk with subject matter as long as the end result is quality. Bird mentioned how due to the rush there were some things in the movie he agreed to quickly when normally he would have taken longer to decide on something better. He was surprised that those things turned out just fine.

The opening shot as it swoops down on the farm house made me sit up and take notice. As it starts raining, it affects the wall realistically for a moment which required a sense of obsessive detail that you can’t help but admire. Unless you’re a pretentious elitist like Mark Kermode, of course.

The character designs are mostly very good. Remy Rat isn’t Mickey Mouse as he has to convince as a real rat who is just a bit more intelligent than most. I complained in a previous review about the glut of similar 'talking animals' films and technically this is one of them. In reality, it’s no such thing.

Actually Ratatouille isn’t perfect, if you’re inclined to be extremely picky, but it’s more perfect than anything else and that’s the main thing.

Highly recommended.


Laura Anderson said...

Hooray, I'm glad you gave it a good review. I'm going to see it tomorrow and it's nice to have an opinion I value tucked away beforehand.

Robin Kelly said...

Thanks Laura.

Belzecue said...

"Brian Bird" <- Brad Bird

Robin Kelly said...

Thanks Bel, I have no idea where 'Brian' came from.