Flickering Myth’s writing team count down to the UK release of Monsters University by picking their favourite Pixar Movies; next up is Tom Jolliffe with Ratatouille…
When Toy Story burst on the scene, the name Pixar became synonymous with quality. It looked like nothing we’d seen on the big screen, but had all the wonderful story telling and pure enjoyment that classic Disney once had. Hit upon hit and quality production following quality production, Pixar and its team of storytellers and artists had the sort of formula few other studios could dream of. The Cars franchise and the ill-fated John Carter (their first live action) remain rare blips, though many point to a certain Disney-esque coasting since Disney bought out Pixar. That said, since that happened they’ve produced arguably some of their finest works. One such film from Disney-Pixar is Ratatouille.
The ability of Pixar to keep coming up with great new stories is what has seen them over take their (current) parent company, as well as DreamWorks in the now constant war of Animated movies. If you are uninitiated with the foreign animated studios, in particular Ghibli then Pixar is the pinnacle (but as I’ve dipped my toes into Ghibli’s waters, I have to say it is my preferred toe dipping venue). Ratatouille has all the wonderment you’d expect. The story of a rat who aspires to be, and succeeds in becoming, a chef is bizarre and brilliant. The key with Pixar though has always been to engage its audience, and touch them in some way. Even in stories about fish or rats, underneath it all, the motives, the feelings, are all very much human and let’s be honest here, what kind of cybernetic organism doesn’t cry in the opening of Up.
Visually this film looks great. The splendour of Paris has been lovingly recreated. The characters all have typically exaggerated looks, whether it’s the Napoleon-esque head chef Skinner, or the frighteningly ghoulish figure of food critic Anton Ego, they all stand out. Remy the Rat (fantastically voiced, as is the Pixar staple, by Patton Oswalt) is a great lead. The relationship between Remy his human friend Linguini is charming and continually amusing. What this film does really well too, aside from being touching, engaging and very funny, is to really capture the essence of food; the joy of food. It really taps into that feeling of delight in sampling wonderful flavours, or if you happen to be culinary minded in any way, the joy of creating in the kitchen.
This ranks as one of the top level of Pixar productions. To order them of course is a tough task, but it’s them at their best. From the animation, to the wonderful voice work, with the pitch perfect storytelling, it’s most definitely a must see. Like the best of Pixar’s work it takes caters to an all-encompassing demographic. It’s a film for everyone at any age. It’s wondrous enough to enthral the kids and witty and engaging enough to charm adults.