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Even more so than a fine French wine, Pixar is always good
A Scene from Disney's Animated/Comedy "Ratatouille".
OPENING WEEKEND: $60,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $245,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Man About Town (5/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

December 25th, 2006: Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a young rat with a rather atypical affinity toward fine cuisine. Fortunately for him, he lives in the Parisian sewers, directly below the restaurant made famous by his idol, Chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett). His deepest desire is to follow in his culinary hero’s footsteps, but there are two substantial obstacles in his way. His father (Brian Dennehy) has no tolerance for Remmy’s refined tastes when he sees so much perfectly decent garbage all around them to feast on. He worries that Remmy’s passion could split up the rat family. Perhaps a much bigger obstacle, however, is the simple fact that Remmy is a rat and that no self-respecting person would ever want to eat food prepared by a rodent, no matter how good of a cook he may be. Despite all this, Remmy makes friends with a garbage boy that works at the restaurant, finds his way into the kitchen, and risks his life preparing the most extraordinary soup. His first successful concoction proves that he may have a knack at cooking after all. Unfortunately, Remmy is playing a risky game because the jealous head-chef and all of the restaurant’s employees want him eliminated as soon as possible.

What to Expect: The brilliant, slightly difficult to pronounce title, Ratatouille, is actually the name of a Provençal French dish, which consists of a wide variety of vegetables sautéed in olive oil and served as a side. It can be a main course as well when served with rice, potatoes, or French bread. In terms of its theatrical release, Ratatouille will be served with “Lifted” as an appetizer. As is the case with many Disney-Pixar releases, the Pixar short will be shown just prior to every screening of Ratatouille. “Lifted” will revolve around an amusing young alien student, who unsuccessfully attempts to abduct a snoozing farmer and tests the patience of his instructor in the process. Sounds like it could be just as much fun as the feature itself.

Article continues below

Either it is bizarre coincidence or blatantly childish competition, but there’s some sort of copycat rivalry between Disney’s powerhouse animation studio Pixar and DreamWorks Studios. It all started with Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and DreamWorks’ Antz and it escapes me at the moment as to which one actually came out first. Shark Tale was a relatively mediocre retaliation to the delightful Finding Nemo, which may be Pixar’s best endeavor to date. And if you try, you are also going to find a ton of similarities between DreamWorks’ finest feature Shrek and Pixar’s Monster’s, Inc. Grouping Disney together with Pixar, sheds new light at their recent disaster The Wild, which was clearly a rip-off of Madagascar. As I see it, Pixar is ahead by a count of 2 to 1 and may just go up by two with Ratatouille, which bares a striking resemblance to the recent refined rat adventure, Flushed Away, which DreamWorks managed to release first. Regardless, Pixar has fully established its line of films as a sort of benchmark in the industry and the company’s almost total dominance is a fact. Saying that Ratatouille will be a smashing success is probably a safe bet.

Jan Pinkava, who won an Oscar for his brilliant CGI animated short “Geri’s Game” and has worked on Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, and Monster’s, Inc., was set to direct after coming up with the main concept for Ratatouille. There are rumors that the production then began experiencing serious problems and that’s why veteran director Brad Bird, who directed the Oscar winning The Incredibles and the cult favorite, The Iron Giant, was asked to step in. Pinkava stepped down, but stayed on board as co-director. Bird’s unwavering success in all of his endeavors in recent years has made him Disney and Pixar’s golden boy and is likely to make Ratatouille one of the most anticipated releases from the animation giants. By the way, the director can be heard in the beginning of the film’s teaser trailer voicing the pompous French waiter who talks about the various cheeses.

As is typical of any Pixar film, the casting is as original and inspired as the storyline and animation. Who, other than Pixar, would have ever thought that comedian Patton Oswalt could voice the lead character in a big-budget animated feature? And yet, his wise-ass tone and nasal delivery are ideal for the main character. And only Pixar would seek out a forgotten veteran actor like Brian Dennehy, with his distinctly loud and wonderful voice, to portray Remy’s father in the picture. Brad Garrett, of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame, brings an even deeper and decidedly louder voice to the table and this will be his third Pixar film. His Auguste Gusteau will actually be a kindly ghost that haunts the restaurant where Remy operates. With Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm, and Adam Scott comprising the rest of the principal cast, the key here is that no voices were provided by any distracting A-listers.

The early word from test screenings couldn’t be any more positive. The colorful Parisian locations present another incredible opportunity for Pixar to show off their still unmatched animation. Reportedly, the animators have been observing pet rats in the studio while working on the picture. I’m sure evidence of that will be available as a special feature once the DVD of Ratatouille comes out. The experimentation has supposedly worked out marvelously as the filmmakers have been beaming with pride talking about the results. Although the film wasn’t quite finished at the time of the test screenings, the CGI that was completed was reportedly some of the best ever. As expected, the voice acting was also of incredibly high quality. The film was met with resounding applause from test audiences at the end and promises to offer another incredible Pixar adventure once it is entirely finished.

As producer John Lasseter has said, “A rat to a kitchen is death; a kitchen to a rat is death.” Once again Pixar seems to have found a perfect conflict and an ideal situation to base a story around. Throughout the course of the movie, Remy has to battle the jealous head-chef in the restaurant as well as the top Parisian food critic. As always, this will be a tale not only with humor, but also with plenty of heart – another perfectly constructed “fish out of water” yarn. Remy’s passion is fine cuisine and he will be torn between his dreams and his family’s insistence that he behave like a rat and eat out of the garbage. The idea of being yourself and following your passion against all odds is so universal that it should be a crime for Pixar to once again find such a perfect protagonist for everyone to rally around. As usual, all of the elements necessary to make a fantastic motion picture are in perfect harmony when Pixar is at the helm.

In Conclusion: Ratatouille is likely to become yet another stellar Disney-Pixar film about friendship, family, and dealing with adversity, with the world’s best animators reportedly creating the best-looking Pixar feature to date. Is anyone foolish enough to actually bet against this movie? Flushed Away didn’t quite gel with audiences, but Ratatouille should dominate the box-office, proving once again that Pixar is the absolute leader in CGI animation. With Pixar animators constantly pushing the boundaries of their craft, their worlds never cease to amaze and I’m positive that there will be many more ooh-la-la’s this time around as well.

Similar Titles: A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles
June 29th, 2007 (wide)
November 6th, 2007 (DVD)

Walt Disney Pictures

Brad Bird

Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter OToole, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett, Julius Callahan, James Remar, John Ratzenberger, Teddy Newton, Tony Fucile, Jake Steinfeld, Brad Bird, Laurent Spelvogel

Total: 154 vote(s).

Animation, Comedy, Kids & Family

Click here to view site

Rated G.

110 min





Ratatouille at RottenTomatoes.com

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