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Last night, found myself in a packed house to see Pixar’s latest, Ratatouille. When I first heard about this movie, I was skeptical, and I’m not the kind of person who sees everything Pixar makes — I never bothered with Cars because it just looked boring. But the reviews, both from Official Media Sources, as well as People I Know, have been nothing less than glowing, so I psyched myself up for a fun night at the flicks.

Two hours later, I left the theater mildly amused, but utterly *stumped* at the adulation heaped upon it. Have our critical faculties suffered so much? The first thing Stacy said as we were leaving was, “Well, that was about 30 minutes too long.” There was so much needless plot, and really, needless TALKING. My main issue with the film is the heavy-handedness of the themes… It’s not enough that characters embody the themes in their behavior… every single thematic point is given it’s 15 minutes in the dialogue, so that we have characters telling us about following their passions, being torn between family, friends, and ideals, that anyone can succeed if they have verve, that we should love one another for who they are, not who we want them to be, etc. etc. There’s even a somewhat bizarre monologue on the nature of criticism, which vaunts critics who defend the new, though, really, there is nothing whatsoever new about Ratatouille — you couldn’t find a film packed with hoarier cliches.

Now, I don’t mind formulas and cliches — they’re what makes Hollywood go ’round. But they ought to be handled with a defter touch.

Now, all that said, I’d probably give this movie a 3 out of 5 stars… I basically enjoyed it, and there are some amazing scenes and set pieces. When the mechanics of the film are really clicking, it’s quite thrilling. Also, and I hate saying this because I hate dwelling on a films technical traits, but the quality with which rat behavior (movement, flow) was captured was startling.

Anyway, it’s a perfectly decent film, but in no way warrants the obsequious passion it’s fostered. Finding Nemo is still my favorite Pixar film, still the best intersection of action, adventure, humor, and, most importantly, heart (the last being a quality Ratatouille pretty much lacks.). Which is why I’m very much looking forward to next summers Wall-E, written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the major creative force behind Nemo.

  1. Well, it’s hard to take your criticism as valid if you don’t manage to work in some mention of how you used your iPhone during that time. Did you post this from an iPhone? Download iPhone wallpaper based on the movie? Queue up so long for the film that you thought you were buying an iPhone? Sheesh! Let’s stick to the topic here, ya know?

    (seriously, guess Sicko got bumped up in the queue!)

  2. I pity your sad jaded little heart…

    No really I just disagree with your assessment. I found nothing cliche about it except for the theme of following your dreams.

    That dialogue you complained about was actually well-written.

    It has plenty of heart and more than warrants the following it’s receiving.

  3. I just feel sad for all persons over the age of 12 who snuggle up to animated feature films and cuddle up with button-eyed stuffed animals.

  4. I was puzzled by the whole thing too. I watched the movie before I saw the reviews, and I was genuinely shocked at the mad praise. What did I miss? I found the film unevenly paced and rather wearying, between the chase scenes, the exaggerated mannerisms and overloud voices, and the slapstick (which I hate). I didn’t notice the animation much, too bad — the film just wasn’t atmospheric enough. Too slapsticky, it was distracting. Besides, the contrast between the detailed backgrounds and the goofy cartoony faces was jarring to me.

    It’s an interesting movie because it’s the first time in a long time I’ve disagreed with the reviews. I’m fascinated just for that reason. Oh, and also because the few people who are courageous enough to say they didn’t like it are getting viciously attacked everywhere. What’s up with that? Was there a law passed? Geez.

    Not everyone liked it, deal.

  5. Actually, the theme isn’t “anyone with verve can succeed.” It’s “anyone with talent is duty-bound to develop that talent and forge their own path,” which is a far less hoary sentiment, and one that is probably very familiar to most Pixar animators.

    The Incredibles (another Bird effort) presented the same theme. And Iron Giant pushed the idea that it’s possible to be more than what you’re expected to be.

  6. BJMe

    “I just feel sad for all persons over the age of 12 who snuggle up to animated feature films and cuddle up with button-eyed stuffed animals.”

    #1 I don’t snuggle up to button-eyed stuffed animals.

    #2 You’re missing out a whole world of great movies if you avoid them simply because they are animated…Plus it makes you an elitist, ignoramus.

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