Your Capsule Movie Review

November 8, 2007

Ratatouille:

Rewatched last night on the newly released, skimpy DVD.  There will undoubtedly be a loaded version in the future but I bought this one anyway.  As much as I love having fistfuls of extras on my DVDs, I’ve been neglecting to watch any of them for quite a while.  This’ll do.

I’m glad to hear that this movie is cleaning up in Europe, which just proves that they’re better than us Americans.  We don’t take kindly to nuanced allegories of class structure and elitism.  We do love eating, though.  We have a whole cable channel devoted to it.  We just don’t care how good it tastes as long as it gets into our faces as fast as possible. 

I haven’t researched too much into the production history, but I do know Brad Bird was brought in part way and he subsequently revised much of the plot and the characters, so I have no idea how much of the movie’s themes were there initially or were inserted by him, but that won’t stop me from diving headfirst into my own conclusions.

His involvement forces me to wonder if Bird was consciously–or even subconsciously–trying to make reparations for a fundamental flaw in his previous movie, The Incredibles.   Now, I love The Incredibles.  It’s genetically engineered to be the perfect superhero movie.  But–without getting too much into it since it’ll turn into a whole other article–there’s an underlying problem with the conflict between Syndrome and Mister Incredible: the justified resentment towards the superhero who gets accolades and special treatment and cool gadgets from the normal but inventive kid who gets kicked to gutter.  There are no origin stories presented in the movie, so we can only assume that superpowers are genetically inherited.  Thus, people with powers are basically better people.  In short, racism!  Boooo!

I may be thinking too much into the subtext, but if we want to get literary about this sort of thing, and we do, I must get it out of my head.

Oh yeah, back to the rat movie.

So now we have the class structure reversed, and the subjugated individual is the one with the superpower, and the ruling class is out to kill him and his kind, all disguised as a cartoon movie about cooking.  But through the cooking, another argument for equality is made.

In a review of the movie on some other website, the critic there failed to recognize a vital aspect of the movie, the ego of Anton Ego.  He states that Ego seems, “for no apparent reason, to harbor an enormous grudge against all those who can cook. From his cadaverous appearance to his coffin like office, we know he’s the bad guy, but we never find out what’s at the bottom of his disdain for Chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett) and his restaurant. This lack of a deeper understanding of Ego weakens the dramatic impact of his participation in the story’s final conclusion.”

This reviewer apparently wasn’t listening during the very first few minutes of the movie when they blatantly say that Ego took great offense to Gusteau’s claim that “anyone can cook.”  Ego is an elitist.  It’s in his freakin’ name, for Christ’s sake.  He revels in being better than others.  He considers himself the superior authority on food and Gusteau was a threat to that.  Ego’s ego is only punctured when he discovers that the chef who cooked the meal that finally gave him a positive emotion, a surge of nostalgia, was a lowly rat.

The movie’s egalitarian “Anyone Can Cook” message falls a bit short considering that it’s not true, though the movie admits as such with Ego’s final monologue.  He still disclaims that anyone can cook, but great cooks can come from anywhere.   Which is the big truth of the movie, as much as I hate admitting that all animals are not equal.  Unfortunately, we’re not clones, and some of us are not as smart, as attractive, or as capable of making a tasty goulash.

On a strange side note, the included advertisements with the DVD had a ten dollar rebate if you bought the regular and Blu-Ray versions.  Now, unless you were planning on giving one away, why in the sweaty hell would you buy two copies of the same movie?  Nice try, Crafty Disney, trying to get me to buy Blu-Ray with the lure of ten entire dollars.

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