There’s a Rat in the Kitchen!

Earworms:
ROCKS by JAM Project
Projects:
-Checking exams. Don’t ask.
The Black and the Purple Chapter II: The Black Network

Watched Ratatouille with my brother last Sunday. I’ve been meaning to write a review for it, but haven’t really gotten around to doing so because of work and an upset stomach. In any case, here it is. It’s easy enough to look for a plot summary on Wikipedia, so I won’t bother writing that here. It’s a simple premise, anyway: A rat named Remy wants to cook gourmet food at a restaurant, and he gets a crack at it albeit trials, one of which involves conflict with his family’s interests. He ultimately succeeds.

Common plot, but I have to say the execution is something unexpected.

It’s a Pixar movie. For kids. But I have to say, without any doubt, that it impressed me. It was of course a fun and enjoyable ride–I always enjoy the way smaller objects or animals are personalized and how they interact with their environment in Pixar movies. That wasn’t the best part, however.

Despite being a kids’ movie, I think the level of dialogue used in the story is quite high for a regular children’s movie. Example:

Django, Remy’s father: [showing the exterminator shop to Remy with the dead rats in the window] The world we live in belongs to the enemy, we must live carefully. We look out for our own kind, Remy. When all is said and done, we’re all we’ve got.
[Django starts to walk away]
Remy: [defiantly] No. Dad, I don’t believe it. You’re telling me that the future is – can only be – more of this?
Django: This is the way things are; you can’t change nature.
Remy: Change is nature, Dad. The part that we can influence. And it starts when we decide.
Django: [Remy turns to leave] Where are you going?
Remy: With luck, forward.

…seriously, since when did you get dialogue in Pixar movies like this?

Another, from one of the film’s antagonists, after tasting Remy’s ratatouille:

Anton Ego: 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. 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 difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.

I found this a rather touching way of seeing the normally snarky world of food critics and critics in general. Because of their reputation they’re able to pass judgment on practically anything they want, but in hindsight, are they really as important as those who pour out their heart and soul into something, even if they’re not that good at it? The movie also speaks volumes about challenging preconceptions, and as a teacher I enjoy doing this (and as Martin has said before, the kids enjoy it too when their preconceptions are challenged as well), and I believe it is my duty to do this.

I do respect the ancient ways and tradition, but there are, unfortunately, some things that are in hindsight, traditionally wrong. These range from minor grammar errors to gross misinterpretations of literature; from mis-sayings (such as “Money is the root of all evil” really being “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”–The Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10) to misunderstandings of philosophical concepts. In a world that sees education as simply a transfer of information, these are unfortunately, but undeniably, common. That is, of course, another topic for another time, and probably better tackled by another person altogether.

In any case, Ratatouille was worth my time and money. I enjoyed it a lot, and I was pleasantly surprised to emerge from it not feeling any less intelligent. (I have heard about people feeling like throwing up afterward, though, after the sight of thousands of rats in a kitchen. Maybe I’m not as squeamish as I think I am.)

Bon Appétit,
Your Black Lion

~ by J. R. R. Flores on August 9, 2007.

3 Responses to “There’s a Rat in the Kitchen!”

  1. This is what makes Pixar great. Their work can appeal to many audiences. The kids will dig the animation and the emotional hook, but there is always something for everyone else.

    For instance, Finding Nemo was as much a kid’s film as it was a dad’s movie. The Incredibles was literally a family movie — no brainer there. And Toy Story appealed to anyone who ever held a toy.

    Thanks for this post, Joey. Now I want to see the film.🙂

  2. This is what’s great about the new animated movies. During my time, if they were not slapstick they would be violent (worse is both!).

    An interesting note is that the animators of this movie never had culinary expeirence and were at a loss on how to make it realastic. As part of their preparation, the animoators took a 2-week culinary course and shared a kitchen with soem chefs. This gave them an intimate undertanding of what really goes on in a kitchen. Thus, the gestures, steps and scene staging were realistic.

    On a lighter note, what would happen if Remy accidentally slipped into the stew? See this – http://www.janchipchase.com/blog/archives/061216-chengdu-64-rat.html

    I hope nobody’s eating!

  3. This is what’s great about the new animated movies. During my time, if they were not slapstick they would be violent (worse is both!).

    An interesting note is that the animators of this movie never had culinary experience and were at a loss on how to make it realistic. As part of their preparation, the animators took a 2-week culinary course and shared a kitchen with some chefs. This gave them an intimate undertanding of what really goes on in a kitchen. Thus, the gestures, steps and scene staging were realistic.

    On a lighter note, what would happen if Remy accidentally slipped into the stew? See this – http://www.janchipchase.com/blog/archives/061216-chengdu-64-rat.html

    I hope nobody’s eating!

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