‘Rat’ Packs Light, Easy Film

by Ian T. McFarland on June 29, 2007

in Movie Reviews 

Ratatouille might be the most disappointing film of the summer – when you can find the names of Pixar and Brad Bird in a film’s credits, you’re usually in a position to expect great things.  Though this rat can’t live up to those names like this writer was hoping, it’s still is Pixar and it still is Brad Bird, and that by itself should be enough to make the film enjoyable, if nothing else.

3 & 1/2 Stars

There’s no greater dynasty in Hollywood today than Pixar.  Since day one, they’ve been putting out good product that grosses well into nine digits, and despite the scores of other computer animated films trying to copy the studio’s ironclad formula, no one even comes close to making it work.  It’s because of this that, even when the studio puts out as fine as a film as Ratatouille, it’s still a let-down that leaves you thinking there should have been more.

Remy is a rat that wants to cook; so when he meets a no-talent chef in need of some help, it’s a match made in heaven.  Unsurprisingly, there are a few hurdles to get through before everyone’s all-smiles, but it’s a family movie where everyone is happy (except the bad guy, who totally deserved it anyway.)  Easy as pie, without ever getting too complicated.  But the dudes at Pixar know how to tell a story – from fresh and full character designs, delicate humor that’s hilarious without being offensive and enough detail and ambiance poured in the streets of Paris to fill a library, seeing a Pixar film has always been more of an experience than just about all of Hollywood’s output, and Ratatouille is no exception.

So what’s wrong with the film?  There are plenty fine ingredients that come together wonderfully in the movie, it’s just that nothing really sticks out.  The visuals and the humor are never enough to push this only decent and sometimes lackluster script through to the level of creating the great film that I’ve come to hope for out of Pixar.  Really, there doesn’t seem to be a thing wrong with the film in the slightest, but it’s only good, not great.

The Pixar machine, after a spotless streak, is starting to slow.  They followed Finding Nemo and The Incredibles with the half-there, half-not effort of Cars, and now there’s Ratatouille to add to the mix.  But what’s worth mentioning is that the guys are still at the absolute peak of computer animation in a world where it’s the flavor of the week.  As disappointing as Ratatouille may be for me, imagine what it would be like if it were produced by the guys behind the Shrek franchise – it’d probably just be another parade of fart jokes that the theater would unreasonably expect you to pay $10 for.  Pixar might not be the invincible studio it was not even five years ago, but it’s still bounds ahead of anyone else.

Ratatouille is damn charming.  I can’t say that it lives up to some of Pixar’s other films; but with a line of work so long and so successful, the studio is sure to be the next Disney of animation – Ratatouille just won’t be a highlight.

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