Monday, August 27, 2007


RUNTIME: 110 min.
RATING: *****

Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.
- Walt Disney

If there’s anyone truly, consistently worthy of the title “The Entertainers”, it has got to be the guys down at Pixar. The only word that comes to my mind when I think of them is genius. For over a decade now, not only have they produced the best animated feature films, they have produced the most ingenious, the most hilarious, the warmest, forget the adjectives, the best entertainers cinema has had to offer us.
Another Walt Disney quote comes to mind-
I do not like to repeat successes; I like to go on to other things.
In this age of endless sequels uniformly insignificant trying their level best to demean summer movies to the status of stupid meaningless fluff, Pixar have always come up with the goods, goods that are enchanting, goods that put a wide beaming smile on your face no matter who you are. Always innovative and for once giving you the rare feeling that you just might have underpaid for the entry ticket.
So what do the geniuses have on their menu this time around?
Remy (Patton Oswalt) the rat, carrying dreams of making it big in the culinary world finds its way to one of Paris’ prestigious restaurant Gusteau, the owner of which, the master chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett) and Remy’s hero, has died of a shock after receiving a scathing review by the one and only of food critics Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole). But how does a rodent, of all the creatures have its preparation be eaten by anyone? Well, that is what Pixar enthralls you with this time around, a tale about cooking and how “anyone can cook”.
There’s a sequence right in the climax, a sequence that so very richly deserved each and every clap it received. Anton Ego, the fearsome food critic whose very review, if bad, is death ring for any restaurant, is seated, eye-brows twirled all-ready to lambast Remy’s preparation. As he tastes the ratatouille, not a word is spoken but the image of a young Anton eating his mother’s food is served. And then, the pen, the dreaded pen, falls. That is classic animation, the power it wields, not only to narrate without a single word spoken but also to convey a wide range of emotions. The sequence is funny, I was clapping well after it was over, but it is heart-warming in its own sweet way, the way great animations touch us.
Needless to say, the animation sets a new bar, again. And honestly, I don’t expect anything lower from Pixar in that department. Paris in the night, with all its lights is breathtaking. There’s a chase sequence in the second-half that is right in the class of the best Tom & Gerry chases one could come up with. And all that, thanks to the visual geniuses down at Pixar. I’m might never get tired of calling them that.
The voice talents do not stand out and that isn’t a bad thing at all. All they do is support the film and elevate it unlike that of Shrek the Third where characters’ voice-nuances seem to have sent the main narration backseat. One voice does stand out; Peter O’Toole does come up with a memorable turn as the food critic. I guess Brad Bird intended just that.
Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles), much like John Lasseter (the master behind Pixar’s Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bugs Life and Cars and executive producer here), is a film maker who truly understands the medium and its vast boundaries or the lack of it. His narration is always unpredictable, especially the way sequences unfold. The energy is always there, the warmth is always there and the story is always there. Plus, the visuals are spectacular, even though they’re limited most of the time within the confines of a kitchen.
For those who look into the top and bottom section of a movie review intending to catch the summary, Ratatouille is the best entertainer that has visited the screen this year. It does have its minor quibbles but I don’t even want to discuss them. Anyone feeling the bad after-taste of Shrek the Third would do well do try this gem of a dish (I’m terribly predictable with all my cooking metaphors; I could learn something from the film). I’m one of the biggest fans of Pixar’s products, I savor them. And for every Pixar film I say with eager anticipation, just like Anton Ego-“Surprise me”. And I know they’ll do a bang-up job at that.
By the way some of you might be wondering, what in the wide world is ratatouille? Well, I have never tasted the dish, hell I have never even laid my eyes on it though it is supposed to be a vegetable stew made with eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions and seasoned with herbs and garlic (source: Why am I telling you this? Maybe because I’m a little worked up in the tummy area after watching all those wonderful preparations. I am one of those who boast of a sub-zero CQ (Cooking Quotient), my friends once banished me from the kitchen. But next time I experiment on myself as a guinea pig, I’ll remember what Auguste Gusteau and the film has to say- “Anyone can cook.”

I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.
- Walt Disney
Pixar does both, time and time again. For the entire family.

1 comment:

KRR said...

Pixar never disappoints...and it sure didn't do any harm to its reputation this time too...
Little marvels of pixar that most ppl must have missed..the shape of anton ego's office...its shaped like a coffin with a skull on his typewriter..
btw..another pixar thingy which you shud mention..the 5 minute animation film before the main film starts..i always look fwd to that just rock..
and this time u even inspired me to enter the kitchen again..