Ratatouille has strong points, fails to get out of Disney’s rat race

By Preman Koshar || Arts & Entertainment Editor

This week, for a change of pace, I’ll be reviewing a modern Disney classic: Ratatouille. I had seen Ratatouille before, not long after it first came out, in 2007, but for some reason I just got a strong urge to watch it again the other day. It did not disappoint. Ratatouille, directed by The Incredibles Brad Bird, is an animated tale about a rat named Remy (Patton Oswalt), that loves to cook, and, by lucky happenstance, finds himself in Paris, the self-proclaimed food capital of the world. He is guided by a figment of his imagination, Gusteau (Brad Garrett), and proceeds to communicate and work with the bumbling Linguini (Lou Romano) to make some of the finest food in the world.

Cinematography is hard to properly critique in an animated film, as there really isn’t a camera, per se, but nonetheless the animators managed to convey interesting angles and shots that likely would not have been possible with an actual camera. The scene where Remy is running around on the kitchen floor is a good example of this. There were several scenes where it felt like a camera was being used, which I think suggests that the animators have a very good sense of space.

The score was very well done also, going back and forth between appropriate romantic French songs and high-strung and dramatic orchestral pieces that made the tense scenes all the more anxiety-provoking. The acting was also hard to measure, as Ratatouille is an animated film, but the voice work seemed to be above average, and conveyed the emotions that were trying to be expressed sufficiently. The dialogue was mediocre overall. There were quite a few well-timed one-liners, but most of the dialogue between the characters seemed canned, predictable, and full of Disneyesque clichés.

The writers seemed to have decided to give in to Disney’s usual demands for illogical character arcs and motivations. Why would the female lead, Colette (Janeane Garofalo), have any romantic interest in Linguini, after it has been clearly established that she resents his quick rise within the kitchen, the head chef’s apparent favoritism for Linguini, and his general idiocy and incompetence. Why would she reconsider all that after he accidentally kisses her and she nearly pepper sprays him? It makes no sense— she should strongly dislike him. And Remy is repeatedly idiotic for letting his family friends have access to the kitchen’s food— why would they ever stop coming for food once he made it apparent that it was good stuff that was easy to take? Why don’t any Disney characters ever seem to think things through?

I know that Ratatouille is largely directed at younger audiences, but really, it should make logical sense to the adults, too. Disney owes people some semblance of logic— I know that a rat that is sentient and can cook is not logical, but that is a part of the given circumstances— that is an acceptable, fantastical premise that one has to go into a Disney movie with. That does not excuse key, intelligent characters from making logical fallacies all of over the place. It simply does not.

Overall, however, Ratatouille is a great film with wonderful cinematography, voice work, and animation, on top of an enjoyable score. But the film loses a lot of its credibility because its plot and character development lack proper logic and feel like they only go the way they do to make some Disney executive happy. That is not the way a plot or character arc should feel, and I hope that Disney remedies this in future films: just because a film is geared towards children does not mean that it has to insult their intelligence.

Sophomore Preman Koshar is the Arts & Entertainment Editor. His email is pkoshar@fandm.edu.

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