Ratatouille (Bird, 2007)

Often brilliant and at times frustrating, Ratatouille is above all things a love story between artists and their individual acts of creation. During the film’s wonderfully paced opening and awe-inspiring ending, director Brad Bird examines this dynamic theme with full attention to detail, character, and story. However, during the film’s odd middle act, these cinematic elements turn toward lame convention, only returning to form when Ratatouille begins it’s climax. Bird’s story of Remy, a Parisian rat who dreams of being a cook, suffers only when it gets away from showing the protagonist’s growth as a compassionate soul. We’ve come to expect consistent genius from both Pixar as a company and Brad Bird as a filmmaker, and while Ratatouille remains essential viewing for adults and children alike, it’s overt examination of side plots creates a sense of complacency and cliche within a beautiful and charming world, something that feels out of place and forced. The problems with Ratatouille belong almost solely to the screenplay, as Bird connects these seemingly important sub plots together, meandering down multiple roads at once with little payoff. The film works best when it’s simplest intentions reveal the grandest of emotions – like having faith in your friends, allowing for constructive criticism, and above all, enjoy what you do. Still, Ratatouille delightfully reminds why animation and for that matter art can be so moving in the first place.

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