Thursday, June 26, 2008

Seven Days of PIXAR: Ratatouille

Here's the seventh, and final, part of my PIXAR retrospective. I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have.

Last time I said I had a theory as to why some PIXAR movies feel more...cliched, I guess...than their other films. Their more recent cycle of films demonstrates this perfectly. By most accounts, Finding Nemo is one of PIXAR's more kid-friendly releases. Simple characters, simple themes, simple story. Next, they released The Incredibles, a far sight more complex and skewing a bit older in the demographic department. After that, they go back to a more simplistic film (some might say too simplistic) in Cars. Again, the film is geared more to the younger set. Finally, Ratatouille deals in themes and plot points that are probably lost on most kids.

The pattern appears to be "younger kids movie, older kids/adults movie". Of course, WALL-E is probably going to smash all of that. But whatever. I think compared to Cars, Ratatouille feels like visionary storytelling. It's only been a year since the movie first came out, and since then I've seen it maybe four or five times. Like every other PIXAR movie before it, it represents a big step forward in animation.

Of course, I didn't always think that way. Way back when Cars first came out, the first teaser for Ratatouille was attached to it. I can't say I was thrilled, especially after seeing Cars. The last thing I wanted was another movie about anthropomorphic anything. I remember thinking PIXAR had just pissed away all the creative goodwill they'd accrued with The Incredibles. Color me surprised with I finally saw the movie. It was considerably more nuanced and thoughtful than I was expecting, and quickly became one my favorite movies of 2007.

Finally, the most interesting thing about Ratatouille is the character of Anton Ego. Now, the villain is usually the most interesting character, but I don't necessarily mean it that way. Ego is interesting because he's a critic, and he's the first thing that movie critics latch onto or slam when they review the movie. Ego dared Linguini/Remy to impress him with a perfect meal, and seeing that sort of put me to shame, because I was essentially doing the same thing to the movie. I dared it to impress me because I had low expectations based on what had come before.

And, just like Ego, I was ecstatic to be proven wrong.

I don't know if I'll have a post for you tomorrow, but I promise to have a review for WALL-E up by the end of the weekend.

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