June 29, 2007


Pixar cooks up the perfect "Ratatouille" (Moira Macdonald, 6/29/07, Seattle Times)

How good, and how much fun, is "Ratatouille"? So good that when it was over, all I wanted to do was watch it again. And how rare is this experience, in this summer of bloated sequels? Rarer than, let's say, a rat who loves to cook — and a screenwriter who knows how to transform a potentially unappealing tidbit of a story (A rodent? Around food?) into a feast.

The wizards at Pixar, working with writer/director Brad Bird (they previously teamed up for the equally stellar "The Incredibles"), have once again delivered a technically impeccable film with humor and heart — and with surely France's most hygienic rat, Remy, at its center.

Voilà! A Rat for All Seasonings (A. O. SCOTT, 6/29/07, NY Times)
The moral of “Ratatouille” is delivered by a critic: a gaunt, unsmiling fellow named Anton Ego who composes his acidic notices in a coffin-shaped room and who speaks in the parched baritone of Peter O’Toole. “Not everyone can be a great artist,” Mr. Ego muses. “But a great artist can come from anywhere.”

Quite so. Written and directed by Brad Bird and displaying the usual meticulousness associated with the Pixar brand, “Ratatouille” is a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film. It provides the kind of deep, transporting pleasure, at once simple and sophisticated, that movies at their best have always promised.

Its sensibility, implicit in Mr. Ego’s aphorism, is both exuberantly democratic and unabashedly elitist, defending good taste and aesthetic accomplishment not as snobbish entitlements but as universal ideals. Like “The Incredibles,” Mr. Bird’s earlier film for Pixar, “Ratatouille” celebrates the passionate, sometimes aggressive pursuit of excellence, an impulse it also exemplifies.

...so you can get away with explicit conservatism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2007 9:46 AM

Animated movies HAVE to be explicitly conservative. Otherwise parents wouldn't bring their kids. Most movies nowadays are aimed at teenagers or young singles, so they don't have to. Or "arty" movies that aim at the far-left over-educated set. But if you want to bring in parents, you better skew right.

Posted by: b at June 29, 2007 11:58 AM