Saturday, July 28, 2007


about 6 months ago, my excitement was birthed over the news of the new Pixar animated movie, Ratatouille. there wasn't a release date at the time. i didn't even know what the story was about. the lure for me was the name of the man at the helm - Brad Bird.

i saw it tonight. its the story of Remy. a simple, French, country rat with a culinary gift. his talents go overlooked by his garbage consuming family, but he finds opportunity at Gusteau's Restaurant in the bustling city of Paris. it was once the greatest restaurant around but has been struggling lately under the new overbearing, uninspired chef. its here that Linguine, the garbage boy, spills the soup pot. he attempts to fix it with his own touches, but only makes matters worse. its Remy who saves the day, not only fixing the soup, but making it a crowd pleasing favorite. Gusteau's begins to buzz with customers demanding the soup, and Linguine, who was credited with the recipe, is forced to repeat it. to keep his job, he teams up with Remy, who plays him like a puppet throughout the kitchen from beneath his toque. under Remy's manipulation, Linguine quickly rises to be a great chef.

that's just the gist. there's much more going on, and some great subplots.

the movie succeeds thanks to the writer/director, Brad Bird. he makes it what it is. his direction garners some of the most amazing sequences in animation and his craft in storytelling and visual style are truly superlative.

the appearance of this film is unique, as is the look of all Brad Bird's films (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles). 3-D computer animation has grown to a fine art. photo realism is attainable. we've seen the amazing capabilities of CGI in the Lord of the Rings, 300, Spider Man, King Kong. etc. Pixar, in this case, keeps the characters as caricatures. their faces and proportions are stylized and cartoony, yet they are animated with brilliant accuracy. the rodent fur is perfect. the movements of scurrying rats and lanky old men are executed perfectly. each character carries themselves in a different fashion, adding a subtle boost of life into these artistic imaginations. he designed The Incredibles similarly. i think this is a great approach. everything moves and behaves in a reasonable manner so the audience can relate to them, but the exaggeration of their appearances allows the artist to tell a lot of the story simply through expressions and mood.

i'm starting to see themes emerging in Bird's work as well. all of his stories tend to focus on a character realizing that he can be whatever he chooses. be that a friendly, child-like robot. be that an earth-saving superhero. be that a talented rat chef. his tales all bear embedded morals. the fulfillment of potential. following your heart and your dreams. they do so with inventive plot lines that never seem trite. they have social, political and historical undertones with seeming patronizing or confusing for kids. each your has heart that stirs emotion. the scene when the dreaded critic first tastes Remy's dish will make you smile.

i can't wait to get excited over the next Brad Bird project. hopefully, the gears on it are already turning.

...and if you haven't seen The Iron Giant (Bird's first feature as writer and director), see it tonight. seriously. go rent it now. better yet, buy it. its about a giant robot that crash lands in a small new england town and befriends a small boy in the midst of 1950's cold war paranoia. it's like E.T. meets Terminator with all the heart and action of each, and then some. it went under the radar when it was released but it is, in my opinion, one of, if not the best animated movie ever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?