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Monday, December 31, 2007

Ratatouille

I wasn’t completely convinced that I wanted to watch Ratatouille, but it seemed like a good choice for light entertainment over winter vacation. And indeed it was. Don’t let the fact that it’s a Disney animation make you think that it’s only for children; there’s plenty in it for adults. Indeed, it’s hard to see how younger children are going to understand much of what’s going on. But of course that’s often the case in works that are aimed simultaneously at kids and adults. By now you know the premise behind Ratatouille, so I won’t repeat it. Suffice it to say that Pixar has outdone itself in the quality of the animation, reveling in the hundreds of individually distinct rats that move with convincing verisimilitude. The actors provide convincing voices, making the rats sympathetic without sappy anthropomorphism.

The attitudes toward French cuisine are also convincing. We have the snooty food critic who desperately wants to write a negative review but in the end is too honest to do so. (The French may be corrupt in other regards, but not about food.) We have the recently deceased chef who demeaned his profession by placing his name on popularized frozen foods (sound familiar?) and by writing a book (in English, of course) called Anyone Can Cook. OK, that seems to contradict my claim about French attitudes toward cooking, except that it explains why Gousteau (hmmm...) is dead and why his book is in English. And, of course, we have our hero, the rat Rémy, who knows the importance of every herb and of correct presentation. He can even turn a humble peasant dish (ratatouille, of course) into a gourmet success.

So go out and rent the DVD. It’s not just for kids.

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