Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Revisit: Ratatouille

A Pixar film 2007

Directed by Brad Bird & Jan Pinkava

Written by Brad Bird & Jan Pinkava & Jim Capobianco

Remy is a young rat in the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol is dead. When he makes an unusual alliance with a restaurant's new garbage boy, the culinary and personal adventures begin despite Remy's family's skepticism and the rat-hating world of humans.

It took me over a year to sit down and watch Ratatouille because I have my reservations about Pixar. I tend to find their animation technically impressive, but flat and disinteresting, especially the color schemes (very purple and yellow), character designs, and all too fluid movement. Likewise the writing, while tightly wound, is often very formulaic, safe, and soft. The films hit the right beats, but all too well. For a company that puts so much individual care into each of their films, they sure seem to churn them out conveyor belt style. Not too mention most of the anthropomorphized characters could easily be substituted for humans and not much would change.

After watching, I still don't understand why this film was so well received. The animation is flat and bubble-like, the story has the same elements as every other Pixar film (an anthropomorphized animal is 'different' from the pack, gets separated, is sad about being lost but learns to love it, etc etc), and the humor is so safe it's practically non-existent. This is a kids movie -- Pixar only makes kids movies, let's be clear -- but where's the adventure? Where's the edge? Where is anything interesting? Why am I watching this?

Technically I am impressed -- don't get me wrong, the amount of tiny detail that gets its due is impressive -- but ultimately the film is unsatisfying. I really wish Pixar would grow a pair and make a goddamn movie worth watching. I still haven't seen Wall-E so maybe my feelings will change after that, but nothings done it for me yet...

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