The View From 32


JULY 10, 2007  

Ratatouille— try it, even if you don't think you'll like it

The food version is easy to make, tasty, and good for you. Here's one recipe for this simple vegetable stew. There are many others.

And from the New York Times comes a fancy version—Confit Byaldi—that has a key role in the movie of the same name.

Now, about the movie. I'll keep this short: it's beautiful. Funny. Entertaining.

You don't have to take a child with you, but kids of all ages will probably enjoy it. Strangely enough, I think adults will enjoy it even more.

I'm not a big fan of Pixar animated films (although this changed after seeing The Pixar Story). Pixar films often seem to be more about showing off the company's computer-animation chops than anything else. I kept nodding off during Finding Nemo.

So let's just say that seeing another animated feature film isn't high on my To-Do list. I decided to try Ratatouille because I'd seen an online post by a designer who recommended it enthusiastically. And because Once, the movie we'd hoped to see, wasn't showing on Monday night.

The story of a rat who dreams of becoming a chef in a gourmet restaurant in Paris, is completely ridiculous. How he actually accomplishes it is still more improbable. But it makes for a very funny movie.

One of the film's great strengths is that the rats remain rat-like while having individual personalities. According to Wikipedia, one of the big changes made by Brad Bird—who replaced the original director Jan Pinkava in 2005—was to make the rats less anthropomorphic. Fortunately he did give them various colors of fur, which helps reduce the "eeewwwwww" factor when you see hundreds of them running around the restaurant's kitchen.

The animation is fantastic, but always supports the story rather than the other way around.

Background shots are as beautiful as the best of the old Disney movies, as you can see above. The animators paid fanatical attention to textures, as seen in the cheese and fruit here.

Best of all the story is warm but not sappy, funny without trying too hard. The audience at our 10 pm showing actually applauded at the end.

You can find lots more info about the film in this Wikipedia article, but my advice is just go see it.

Then come home, cook up a batch of ratatouille and enjoy that too.


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