Here’s one of Mari Ness’s excellent columns at tor.com: A Rat With a Dream: Ratatouille.
I always enjoy these; it’s just so interesting to see someone REALLY analytical take a movie apart. Plus all the behind-the-scenes information about the making of the films adds extra depth to her reviews.
Also, I naturally liked this movie, because rats! And cooking! Though it’s not really my favorite of the more recent bunch of animated films, mostly because the basic plot was so unbelievable. It’s the guiding-the-kid-like-a-puppet thing; I didn’t buy it and it was so central to the movie, so that was a little bit of an issue. Also, I had a hard time believing the ending. I liked Remy, though.
Let’s see what Ness says about the film…
Director Jan Pinkava had been standing in his kitchen when he originally thought of the idea of a rat with dreams of becoming a chef, which leads me to ask all kinds of questions about his kitchen, but let us move on. It took him another three years to write the script and to convince Pixar that small kids would be willing to watch a film about a rat, but by 2003, Pixar had approved his concept, agreeing that it would be their eighth movie….[Later] By this time, Pixar animators were almost accustomed to working well behind schedule. Thus, despite the deadline, Pixar animators and designers took several field trips to Paris for inspiration, where they dined at fabulously expensive restaurants, and also contemplated what it might be like to have a chase scene on the Seine River with a rat. (One of the film’s best set pieces, as it turned out.) They also, presumably a bit less pleasantly, took a brief trek into the Paris sewers, which featured in another of the film’s major set pieces.
Yep, as always, tons of great stuff in this review. I guess poking briefly into a sewer would be a price worth paying for the chance to dine at fabulously expensive restaurants, presumably on the Pixar / Disney dime.
Here’s the take-home message in a nutshell:
And astonishingly enough, for all its fantasy and insistence that yes, yes, you can achieve your dreams if you pursue them, Ratatouille is surprisingly realistic.
No one in this film achieves their dreams without hard luck and multiple setbacks. Even though they eventually help out, Remy’s family is not initially supportive of his dream….he film suggests that yes, you can succeed—if you are willing to try a second time, and a third time, and maybe even more times than that—something that echoes Brad Bird’s own life and Hollywood career, a series of ups and downs.
I think “realistic” is perhaps a stretch, but fine.
The whole review is well worth reading. Click through if you have a minute and read the whole thing.