Last weekend I put on my moth-eaten old suit and walked the few blocks from my apartment to the San Francisco Masonic Hall, to watch a screening of Ratatouille, the latest PIXAR film. Later, at the Wrap-party, I was surrounded by co-workers and friends, all dressed-up, wearing huge grins on their faces. It wasn’t only the champagne making them smile; they realized that they had somehow made yet another great movie.

I am curious to see how Ratatouille goes over with general audiences. If they like it as much as the Wrap-party audience then it might be the biggest hit of any Pixar film yet. Kids will no doubt enjoy the fun scenes of a rat-chef as much as I did, but will they appreciate the thematic sophistication? Will clean-freaks get beyond the “ICK-factor” and learn to love a little rodent (yes, even in the kitchen) as much as me? How will it play for the People of France and other Francophone people? Will they see the love-letter to French culture that I see, among the many layers of this film?

There were quite a few French artists on the crew. No self-respecting animation studio can compete without its fair share of French artists these days (they are as sought after in the corporate animation-race as German rocket-scientists were in the space-race) and I think that their participation in this particular project lends it an authenticity, right down to the distinctive Gallic gestures in the beautifully acted animation.

Paris is lovingly presented, in one beauty-shot after another. The scenes of the city seen through evening fog from the River Seine brought back memories of my own nocturnal wanderings along those banks. This is the new movie to beat in terms of animation design. Character-design, production-design, staging, shading, lighting… everything.

As someone who worked on it myself, I am not able to give an unbiased review of this film, so I shouldn’t even try. Let’s just say that if you are a fan of any of the other 7 Pixar films, then you are not going to be disappointed by number #8.

9 thoughts on “Ratatouille”

  1. Splendid.

    I’ve been watching my interest develop from “kinda interested” to “extremely interested” based on the fantastic characters, the cool story, and the innovative camera/animation.

    You were right on the mark with your Cars review, so I’m thrilled that you really enjoyed Rat-ta… ratatata… Ratatouille.

    How much of it did you storyboard?

  2. There is only one film I have been REALLY looking forward to this year, and it’s this one! I’m already sold by the trailers and featurettes. Are you in the “art of” book? I haven’t had a chance to examine it closely…

  3. John>> yes. It does look absolutely fantastic. The best looking CG movie I have ever seen, in fact.

    Daniel>> I worked on boards for about a year and a half and, as is always the case, not all of it made it to the screen.

    Benton>> No i didn’t make it into the ART OF book, sadly. I did some early pre-vis, before the film even got a green light, but I am not surprised that stuff didn’t make the cut, because it was so long ago (early 2000 in fact) and there was so much super artwork that HAD to be squeezed into the book.

    In particular, I am happy to see that THIS book includes the beautiful sculpts by Greg Dykstra. Sculpts have always been left out of the Pixar ART OF books before.

  4. I was disappointed by Cars (I hate to say!) but am really looking foward to this one. The trailers look fabulous!

  5. Lisa>> I think that Ratatouille will live up to your expectations. It has a funny premise and a strong story, backed up by beautiful art-direction and animation. It is my favourite film that I have worked on so far.

  6. congratulations! i didn’t know you worked on it. it’s opened this week in podunk. i don’t know anything about it, but the idea sounds great. looking forward to it!


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