Monday, July 16, 2007


We went to see the latest Pixar movie yesterday. Our morning began slowly, which is typical of a Sunday. What was atypical was the fact that I was moving slower than the co-signer. We had decided to see the film and even decided to head over to Woodinville for the viewing, but actually getting up and moving seemed to be an issue. It became so much of an issue that we decided to eat breakfast out and catch a later show.

Breakfast at Indian Palace in Woodinville was quite good, by the way. Nothing fancy, but quality food, good service, and plenty of coffee. After eating there we went to the theater and bought our tickets. We had 20 minutes before the film was scheduled to begin, so we went to Barnes and Noble to browse and kill time. For some reason I kept thinking that we had 30 minutes before the beginning of the film. I was frantically waved out of the door once the co-signer realized that we were 10 minutes late. On our way over she mentioned stopping and getting tickets for a later show. I disagreed saying that we're probably just missing previews and I don't care if I miss the very beginning.

It turned out that I was right. We missed most of the previews. The only one we had to suffer through was the one for another Pixar film. That was pretty painless. Ratatouille begins with a short film in the classic cartoon tradition. The short features 2 aliens who come to Earth. One of the aliens is taking what appears to be his human abduction test. He's failing miserably. This short was very good and well worth catching. I won't give it all away, but the fun in it is very reminiscent of classic Warner Brothers cartoons. The kids in the theater with us laughed appreciatively at this film.

When the main feature began we were stoked for laughs. Ratatouille is the tale of a rat in France. This lonely rat feels unappreciated by his fellow rats and, in particular, his father who is the leader of his den. This rat reads books, doesn't hate humans, has a refined nose and taste buds, and has a passion for food. He wants to be a great chef and dreams of following in the footsteps of his television chef mentor, Gasteau.

Of course, as is typical of these sorts of stories, his fellow rats reject this desire. Eventually, a catalystic event happens and the rat is separated from his den. He finds himself on the streets of Paris and, as luck would have it, outside of Gasteau's restaurant. After a rather harrowing scene in the kitchen, the rat is eventually befriended by a young man. The young man learns that the rat can cook and together they plot to work as chefs in the kitchen of Gasteau's.

Much to the dismay of the head chef, they turn the restaurant around. It had been failing for a while, down to three stars, but the good reviews were beginning to pour in. Linguini, our young man's name, was becoming well known and his meals were sought after. This precipitates a call from the biggest food critic in the city, a man known as The Grim Eater (played by Peter O'Toole - would someone give him an Oscar, now?!!?).

I'm shortening the telling of this tale quite a bit. There are a number of side stories that all pull together to move the main plot along. As usual with Pixar films there are harrowing chase sequences and a lot of slapstick humor. However, what sets Ratatouille apart for me was the writing. This film is written very well. The script contains the typical one liners that only adults would catch (ie, the female chef in the film is referred to by her last name only once and it is Tatou; no doubt an homage to the actress Audrey Tatou), but it also features some top notch satire of the French, cooking shows, and critics. Peter O'Toole's review of the restaurant is spot on, though it runs a bit long and I'm not sure the kids are going to get that.

Also of note in the movie is the soundtrack. This is a very good soundtrack. It is not one filled with a whole bunch of pop tunes, but rather a soundtrack with original music designed to evoke the appropriate emotions in the film. There were several times when I found my foot tapping along. Please stay through the end and enjoy the closing music as well as the amusing animation through the credits.

On our way out of the film, the co-signer told me, "There are not many films that I want to own, but this is definitely one of them." High praise, indeed. I second that emotion.

If I had a caveat it would be a small one: the kids in the theater didn't seem to laugh much and neither did the adults. I wonder if the film is just over small children's heads. It could be, but that doesn't explain the reactions from the adults. We laughed all the way through it and I'll be hard pressed to see a funnier film this year.

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