“We Have Ze ‘ArtWarming Rodent Film As A Special…”

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Ratatouille is a 2007 Pixar film that concerns the unlikely and unhygienic story of a cute rat who becomes a chef in a Paris eatery. Some small spoilers may be found within, but those who have already seen it, I may put up a piece on all the little things about the film that I noticed.

Some of you might be surprised to hear that this heartwarming tale of vermin in Gay Paree is known among film buffs to be a classic example of a superhero movie. The basic components are all there: an origin story, a moment where the hero must decide between his old and new life, and an arch nemesis. There’s even a sidekick (Linguini)!

Well, I say arch nemesis, but that’s not strictly true. There’s an arch nemesis and a minor villain, a very stereotypical head chef played by Lord Of The Rings’ Ian Holm. The character is very much played for farce and comic relief purposes, although, do you need comic relief when the whole point of the film is comedy?

Remy the alliteratively named Rat is blue, to make him stand out in any crowd shots. As a superhero, he plays the part very well, with an uncanny sense of taste and smell, which at first aids him in his duty as poison checker. I think this could’ve been done with more tragedy, such as Remy coming back to his pack later to find them all dead from food poisoning. Ah, foolish Scott. How dare you ask for tragedy in a Pixar film?

The arch nemesis comes in the form of a snooty food critic (played by veteran actor Peter O’ Toole) who is the kind of critic that is designed to be despised. However, as an aspiring critic myself, I took almost personal offence to the way in which this guy was portrayed as a capital douchebag. I mean, the guy is called Anton Ego! His character motivations seemed to be more concentrated on ripping the restaurant to shreds, which is not what the job of critic entails. Sure, if there are flaws in something (like in Ratatouille, for example), then yes, you may go to town on pointing them out. However, if you are actively looking for the flaws, then you are doing your job wrong.

The obligatory romantic sub plot comes in the form of the sidekick and one of the other characters building up a relationship in a fast-paced kitchen. In my opinion, that particular plot worked well (and indeed, could’ve supported a film on its own) and was quite convincing. Of course, the necessary conflict was still there, but I found it worked.

Unfortunately, as befits a children’s film, most adults can see the heart-warming ending coming a mile away. However, Pixar tried to go above and beyond by surprising the viewer with a different ending…which I also saw coming. I ended that film feeling not only that I had lost the capacity to be surprised, but also that any kids watching the film would need to use serious suspension of disbelief…for the next three decades.

Ratatouille, for all its predictability, is still a good film to watch if you want to get an idea of what exactly goes into making a top notch kitchen, or even just wanting a good film to watch.


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