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.