There is little that I can say about Ratatouille that hasn’t been said already. From the most popular of media outlets to the multitude of Disney related blogs and online communities, praise for this latest endeavor from Pixar is very close to unanimous. And deservedly so.
It is a triumph of technique, design, story and character and a film that transcends the very genre that its makers have essentially been defining and redefining for the past fifteen years. While few in Hollywood would likely ever rank Ratatouille writer-director Brad Bird among such luminaries as Scorsese, Spielberg or Eastwood, he manages a filmmaking process that is ever much more complex and produces results that are equally as entertaining and captivating.
Let’s face it—Pixar does not settle for the conventional. And nothing can be more unconventional than the story of Remy, a country rat with a passion for food and cooking, who inadvertently finds himself at the center of Paris culinary culture. While there are countless reasons to cheer this film, Remy stands out distinctly. He is an amazing triumph of character animation. When sharing the screen with his fellow rats, his personality his brought to life through the excellent voice acting of Patton Oswalt. But it is the nuances of his silent interactions with his human counterpart Linguini that provide a performance that is a triumph of humor and heart. For Remy, a simple shrug of the shoulders or the slow blink of an eye conveys an essence of character that you will never find in a Shrek film or among a group of dancing penguins.
While Monday morning will bring a new round of box office tallies, of which Ratatouille will undoubtedly be a focal point, this film will never need validation rooted in financial accounting. Pundits and Wall Street analysts will potentially drone on and on again on the merits of the Disney-Pixar merger, rehashing suppositions that have long grown stale and hold little relevance. For Ratatouille revisits the same passion for filmmaking and levels of artistic achievement that Walt Disney himself brought to productions such as Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia over a half a century ago. To discuss such an achievement strictly in the context of short-term number crunching and marketing campaign challenges, demonstrates a short-sightedness barely worthy of debate. Sometimes it is the intangible investments that in the long run pay the highest dividends.