...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

November 11, 2007

Ratatouille - 6

Pixar again proves it is an amazing animation company. The visuals in this film are stunning, and the story is fun and entertaining. But the films one flaw is that the plot is jumpy, moving faster at times and losing the significance of the characters involved. It starts off as a story about Remy, a rat with an acute sense of smell. He wants to fulfill his dream of being a cook in the tradition of France's great cook, Gusteau who claims that everyone can cook if they take the art seriously. When Remy gets separated from his family and ends up in the kitchen of Gusteau's (who has since died) restaurant, the film picks up the story of Linguini, who works as a dishwasher and garbage boy in the kitchen. When Remy and Linguini become friends and co-workers, Linguini is able to cook up great food with the help of Remy's cooking abilities. Linguini becomes famous and over takes main chef Skinner, who- in true elitist fashion- has it out to bring Linguini down. The film then moves quickly developing a love interest between Linguini and Collette a fellow chef and reuniting Remy with his family. The conflict is that Remy and Linguini are the only ones who know what is actually going on. The film then takes up the story of Anton Ego, the famous food critic. He comes to know the truth and is able to sum up the film and bring about resolution. I have recently read many writers talk about Ego's final speech as it reflects on the purposes of art and criticism. This is worth reading (or hearing) again:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talents — new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.
It is both a fun and thoughtful film, which makes it worth watching.

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