Quick Review: Ratatouille (dir. by Brad Bird)


The following is a Mini Review for Ratatouille, written on June 17, 2007,  taken word forratatouille word from my old Livejournal.

“The absolute worst thing I could ever say about Disney / Pixar’s “Ratatouille” is that I have to wait 2 whole weeks until I can see it again at the official release.”

The Movie: “Ratatouille”

Starring:
(cast list borrowed from the IMDB)
Patton Oswalt … Remy (voice)
Ian Holm … Skinner (voice)
Lou Romano … Linguini (voice)
Brian Dennehy… Django (voice)
Peter Sohn … Emile (voice)
Peter O’Toole … Anton Ego (voice)
Brad Garrett … Gusteau (voice)
Janeane Garofalo … Colette (voice)

This review may be biased, as I’m a Pixar Nut. I have no idea how they do it. Right now, they’re 8 for 8 in my opinion (or maybe 7 for 8 only because anyone who hates or doesn’t understand Nascar may have had problems relating to Cars, like myself).

This place has to be the most enjoyable and creative working establishment on the planet. The absolute worst thing I could ever say about Disney / Pixar’s “Ratatouille” is that I have to wait 2 whole weeks until I can see it again at the official release. Yesterday, Disney hosted a Special Sneak Peek around the country of the film. A one time showing that didn’t quite fill all of the seats in the theatre (and I think that’s only because not too many people were aware of it – about 20 -30 in my audience), but amused and amazed everyone who did show. We had laughter, applause and even a few happy murmurs in the audience. 🙂

Ratatouille is the story of Remy, a rat who adores food. Not just eating it, but actually creating meals with it. Walking in the footsteps of a great and renowned chef Gusteau, Remy wants to cook (with the assistance of his brother Emile), but his father feels that his place is with the rats he lives with. After finding himself in need of job, Linguini is brought on as the newest worker at the famous Gastau’s restaurant, which has seen better days. Linguini wants to fit in, but the staff have regulated him to something of a low position. Together, Remy and Linguini are able to help one another, in quite a few funny ways.

Like all of the Pixar stories before it, the themes are universal. One of Ratatouille’s themes is a “being brave enough to go after what you want most, despite the changes that may occur” and under director Brad Bird’s leadership (who also directed “The Incredibles” and my favorite Amazing Stories episode, “The Family Dog”), this comes across really well. All of the main characters are made to grow in some way (even the ones that appear to not really have a sense of direction).

The graphics (if you can even call them that) are wonderful, and Paris is rendered in a near picture perfect look. According to the film, it’s 100% animation, without any motion capturing whatsoever (which makes sense, considering that Brad Bird has gone on record as stating that animation is an art form and not a genre). The food looks great, and the a lot of the smoke effects (fire, steam, hair getting wet) have improved since The Incredibles. The sound (at least my theatre) was also very good, sounds typically jumped around the speakers for the most part.

As a kids film, Ratatouille works, but parents may want to be on the lookout. The word ‘dead’ comes up quite a bit, and if you’re one of those parents that haven’t had that talk with your kids, I’m just warning you now. There’s some animated violence throughout, but considering my movie theatre had parents that were taking their kids to see Hostel II, I don’t think it’s too bad. It’s up for the viewer to really decide.

Also note that before the movie starts, the animated short “Lifted” also appears, which was hilarious and may cause one to remember their first few driving lessons. I’ll leave it at that. ☺ “Ratatouille” is a marvelous triumph by Disney and Pixar, who always seem to remember that that the story (above all), comes first.

The film doesn’t contain any ACP’s (I call them After Credit Pieces – those little snippets of film that show up right after the credits are done – see Pirates of the Carribean (any one of them) to understand what I mean), though the credits themselves are cute, complete with a new set of Pixar Babies. Michael Giacchino was also on board with the Soundtrack, which is a mix of mostly french violin/piano pieces. Quite a jump from the Incredibles and Mission Impossible III for him, but sweet, nonetheless.

Ratatouille opens in theatres June 29.

Here’s The Super Bowl Teaser for Toy Story 4!


Right after the game ended, PIXAR snuck in this little teaser for Toy Story 4.  I have to admit that I nearly changed the channel and missed it.  I’m glad I didn’t!

Anyway, it looks like Buzz is still getting into trouble and Woody is still trying to hold it all together.  To be honest, I thought Toy Story 3 ended the series on a perfect note so I’ll be curious to see what they do with Toy Story 4.  But you know what?  It’s PIXAR and it’s Toy Story so I have faith!

Cars 3 Extended Sneak Peek


It’s been 11 years since Disney/Pixar released Cars. The audience has grown up, and from the looks of it, the story tied to Cars 3 is trying to grow with them. Another trailer was recently released, this time featuring Lightning McQueen’s (Owen Wilson) new nemesis, the ultra modern rookie sensation Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). It also introduces Cruz Ramirez, another character that appears to be a new trainer for McQueen. Most of the favorites will also be returning for this installment. Lightning is now standing in the same spot as the legendary Doc Hudson when he first met him. Is Lightning finally at the twilight of his career, or does have one more good race left in him?

Brian Fee, who’s worked on the other Cars films as well as a number of other Pixar projects , gets to sit in the Director’s chair this time around. I just hope it’s as dark as Toy Story 3.

Disney/Pixar also released a profile trailer, showing off some of the new characters.

Lightning McQueen:

Jackson Storm:

Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo):

Film Review: Finding Dory (dir by Andrew Stanton)


finding_dory

Finding Dory, the latest film from Pixar, tells the story of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal blue tang (for our readers in Vermont, that’s a fish) who suffers from short-term memory loss.  You may remember her from Pixar’s previous movie about fish, Finding Nemo.  In that movie, she helped a clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) find his son, Nemo (voiced, in Finding Dory, by Hayden Rolence).  In the sequel, it’s Marlin and Nemo who are now helping Dory to find her parents.

Dory has spent years searching for her parents.  Of course, it would be easier if she didn’t suffer from short-term memory loss.  It seems that every time she sets out to track her parents down, she ends up getting distracted and forgets what she was doing.  However, while helping to teach a class about migration, Dory has a sudden flashback to her parents (voiced, quite charmingly, by Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton).  She sets out once again, determined to find her parents.  This time, Marlin and Nemo are accompanying her.  As Dory continually frets, she’s can’t do it alone because she can’t remember directions.

Though her memories are fuzzy and her flighty nature leads to some conflict with Marlin (who is just as cautious and overprotective of Nemo as he was in the first film), Dory eventually finds her way to where her parents were last seen.  And, in doing so, Dory discovers that she and her parents originally lived at a water park, the California Marine Life Institute.

(One of my favorite parts of the film is that apparently, Sigourney Weaver recorded several greetings and other messages that are played continuously over the Institute’s PA system.  “Hello, I’m Sigourney Weaver and welcome to the Marine Life Institute.”  Dory becomes convinced that Sigourney Weaver is some sort of God-like being who is leaving personal messages for her.  At one point, Dory exclaims, “A friend of mine, her name’s Sigourney, once told me that all it takes is three simple steps: rescue, rehabilitation, and um… one other thing?”)

Since this is a Pixar movie, Dory meets the usual collection of oddball and outcast sealife at the Institute, all of whom help her out while overcoming their own insecurities, providing properly snarky commentary, and hopefully bringing a tear or two to the eyes of even the most jaded of viewers.  Finding Dory is full of familiar voices, everyone from Idris Elba to Bill Hader to Kate McKinnon.  But, for me, the most memorable of all the voices (with the exception of Ellen DeGeneres herself) was Ed O’Neill’s.  O’Neill brought Hank, the bitter but ultimately good-hearted seven-legged octopus, to poignant life.  I imagine that, should there be another sequel, it will be called Finding Hank.

Finding Dory continues the annual tradition of Pixar films making me cry.  Finding Dory is an incredibly sweet and truly heartfelt movie but, at the same time, it’s also an extremely witty comedy.  This is one of those Pixar films where the joy comes not only from looking at the amazing animation but also from listening to truly clever dialogue being delivered by some of the best voice actors around.  DeGeneres does such a great job bringing Dory to life that, as the movie ended, my first instinct was to run out and buy a regal blue tang of my very own.  But then I read an article on Wikipedia, which explained why I shouldn’t do that.

(Basically, blue tangs may look cute but they have big, scary spikes that can cut up your hand.  As well, they don’t do well in captivity.  So, if you’re planning on getting a Dory of your very own, you might be better off just rewatching this movie…)

It’ll make you laugh.  It’ll make you cry.  Finding Dory is another great film from Pixar.

Pixar Does It Again With Inside Out


Inside_Out_(2015_film)_posterInside Out is the latest brilliant film from Pixar’s Pete Docter and it will remind you why you fell in love with Pixar in the first place.

There are no talking cars or lovable monsters in Inside Out.  Instead, it’s the story of a very normal 12 year-old girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias).  Or rather, it’s the story of what goes on in her head.  For most of the movie, Riley deals with experiences to which we can all relate: she moves to a new city, she struggles to relate to her well-meaning parents (voiced by Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane), and she tries to fit in at a new school.  Inside Out is a film about the small moments of life and how they all add up to create a bigger picture.

What sets Inside Out apart is the way that it tells its deceptively simple story.  Inside Out takes place almost entirely inside of Riley’s brain.  And it turns out that her mind is gigantic wonderland, one that is so big and complex that not even the characters who live there quite understand how it all works.  Bing Bong (Richard Kind), a pink half-elephant, half-cat, half-dolphin creature, spends his time wandering through the halls of memory and mournfully thinking back to when he was Riley’s imaginary friend.  Whenever Riley goes to sleep, the actors and directors at Dream Productions film a different nightly movie.  Meanwhile, Imagination Land is a fun place to visit but not a good place in which to live and past childhood traumass — like a gigantic stalk of broccoli and a terrifying birthday clown — are locked away deep in Riley’s subconscious, where they are guarded by officious policemen.   Zigzagging through this mental landscape is the literal Train of Thought.

And then, above it all, there’s Headquarters.  This is where five different emotions take turns “steering” Riley through life.  Fear (Bill Hader) is always nervous but, at the same time, keeps Riley safe.  Disgust (Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from eating broccoli and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Sadness, meanwhile, hasn’t had much to do over the past 12 years and, as a result, she spends most of her time standing in a corner and feeling … well, sad.  Sadness is voiced by Phyllis Smith, best known for playing Meredith on The Office.  Smith proves herself here to be a strong and empathetic voice artist.

Their unquestioned leader is Joy (Amy Poehler).  As befits her name and job, Joy is always positive, always upbeat, and always optimistic.  For 12 years, Joy has been in charge of steering Riley’s life but that all changes when Riley and her family move to San Francisco.  Suddenly, Joy finds it more difficult to keep Riley permanently happy.  Memories that were formerly color-coded yellow for happy start to turn blue.

When both Joy and Sadness are accidentally expelled from the Headquarters, it’s up to the three remaining emotions to try to keep Riley well-balanced until they can return.  However, the journey back up to the Headquarters is a long and dangerous one, full of some of the most imaginative (and metaphorical) imagery in Pixar’s history.  Joy and Sadness will have to work together to make it.

And really, that’s what makes Inside Out so special.  It’s the rare family film that acknowledges that allowing ourselves to feel sad is often as important as being happy.

Inside Out is a brilliant coming-of-age story and one of the best films of the year.  It’s a film that will make you laugh and cry and will remind you of why you fell in love with Pixar in the first place.  Kids will love the humor and adults … well, adults will probably be trying to hold back the tears.

What a great film!

Thank you, Pixar.