Directed by Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
Written by Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco and three other ‘additional story’ writers
Food porn, food preparation and huge amounts of detail about how a profession kitchen operates tied into a comedic cartoon about a misfit rat with a dream. Food and rats don’t combine well, it’s a hard sell to start with. I love me some professional food prep though, like, hard core love that stuff. But the rats…..
The opening sequence is somewhat depressing and upsetting, showing how little Remy fits in with the other rats of his community, how misunderstood he is and how he dreams of something he can’t have. The very familiar ‘follow your dream, you misfit’ storyline is tempered with the reality that Remy has to be very lonely by doing so, he continually distances himself from his family and community of rats to be among humans who for the most part would kill him. He deals with this by creating an imaginary friend in the chef Gusteau who talks to him. I like that they show it’s not actually easy.
I like the bit where the other rats have come to help out in the kitchen and Remy puts them all through the dishwasher – they all come out fluffy and clean. Adorable.
The storyline with Linguini being Gusteau’s son is kind of boring to me though, it’s all mostly lacking in actual conflict and things come stupidly easy to Linguini. I find Anton Ego’s arc a lot more interesting. Ego is a man who is used to his word being law. He dismisses a restaurant, then it is no longer considered worth going to. He is always depicted as colourless, a frowning hunched Scrooge type character, which makes the moment when he eats the Ratatouille so magical, because you get to see him smile, and his eyes light up.
I also find Colette and Linguini’s relationship problematic though, not the least because he’s hiding Remy/lying to her for a large part of it, but the moment where Remy makes them kiss (when Linguini is trying to tell her the truth) she literally has a can of mace in her hand, ready to spray him for being a crazy person. She goes from about to mace him to melting into the kiss and that is pretty upsetting really. Like, oh… I guess I don’t have to be worried about his raving because he kisses really well.. um. Yeah, no thanks. I have too much awareness of rape culture to be okay with this scene.
Plus the whole point that she’s the only woman in the kitchen, that’s pretty legit for the culture of professional kitchens as I understand them, but why is there no other named woman character in the entire movie? All the rats even, are male.
Does it make me love the people? Yeah, they’ve animated Remy in a very cute way, very big eyes and adorable whiskers, his father is not nearly as cute looking. I find Linguini pretty boring too, and it bugs me that Colette is won over by kissing… but I like Ego and I guess I want them to succeed, but this is really Remy’s movie.
Bechdel test: Nope. There is only one named female character in this movie, Colette
“If you focus on what you’ve left behind, you’ll never be able to see what lies ahead”
State of Mind: Sure, this movie is pretty cute and all, but I don’t think it’s the best Pixar has to offer and I think there are some huge missteps.