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Ratatouille

Theatrical poster
Directed by Brad Bird
Jan Pinkava (co-director)
Produced by Brad Lewis
John Lasseter (executive producer)
Andrew Stanton
Galyn Susman (associate producer)
Written by Jan Pinkava
Jim Capobianco
Brad Bird
Emily Cook
Kathy Greenberg
Bob Peterson
Starring Patton Oswalt
Lou Romano
Peter Sohn
Brad Garrett
Ian Holm
Brian Dennehy
Janeane Garofalo
Peter O'Toole
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography Robert Anderson
Sharon Calahan
Editing by Darren Holmes
Stan Webb
Studio Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) June 29, 2007 (2007-06-29)
Running time 110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1]
Gross revenue $623,707,397[2]

Ratatouille is a 2007 computer-animated film produced by Pixar and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The film was the eighth movie produced by Pixar, and was directed by Brad Bird, who took over from Jan Pinkava in 2005. The title refers to a French dish which is served late in the film, and is also a play on words on the species of the main character.

The plot follows Remy, a rat who dreams of becoming a chef and tries to achieve his goal by forming an alliance with a Parisian restaurant's garbage boy. Ratatouille was released on June 29, 2007 in the United States, to both critical acclaim and box office success, and later won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, among other honors.

Contents

Plot

Remy is a rat who lives in the attic of a French country home with his brother Emile and a pack led by his father Django. Gifted with a keen sense of smell and taste, Remy aspires to be a gourmet chef, inspired by France's recently deceased top chef, Auguste Gusteau, but instead his talent is put to work in sniffing for rat poison. When the pack is discovered by the home's occupant, they flee into the sewers; Remy becomes separated from the others and ends up marooned underneath Gusteau's restaurant in Paris, conversing with a hallucination of the famous chef.

Urged on by Gusteau, Remy makes his way up to the restaurant's kitchen skylight to watch the staff in action. There, he observes Alfredo Linguini being hired as an escuelerie by Skinner, the restaurant's current owner and Gusteau's former sous-chef. When Linguini spills some of the soup and attempts to recreate it using random ingredients, Remy is horrified, and falls into the kitchen; there, instead of escaping, he fixes the soup. Remy is caught by Linguini just as Linguini is caught by Skinner, but before anyone can stop the serving staff, the soup is served and found to be a success. Colette, the staff's only female chef, convinces Skinner to retain Linguini, believing him to be the success behind the soup. Linguini takes Remy home instead of killing him, as Remy was the "little chef" who made the soup.

Remy discovers that he can control Linguini's movements by pulling on his hair.

Remy and Linguini find a means to overcome their language barrier, with Remy pulling Linguini's hair under his toque blanche to control his limbs like a marionette. The pair successfully meet the challenges devised by Skinner. Skinner, suspicious of Linguini's talents, discovers that Linguini is actually Gusteau's son and by Gusteau's will, is the rightful owner of the restaurant; this revelation would ruin Skinner's plans to use Gusteau's name to market a line of microwaveable meals. Remy discovers the documents and takes them to Linguini, who subsequently fires Skinner and takes control of the restaurant. Linguini and Colette even begin to develop a romantic bond, leaving Remy feeling left out and taken for granted. Remy finds Emile in the restaurant's trash, and Remy is reunited with the pack. Django warns Remy that humans and rats will never get along, but Remy does not believe him. Meanwhile, Remy begrudgingly feeds Emile and his friends by stealing from the kitchen's pantry as the nights pass.

Anton Ego, a food critic whose past review cost Gusteau's one of its star ratings, announces he will review the restaurant again the next day based on its rising success. Linguini, under pressure of Ego's pending arrival, has a falling out with Remy, causing Remy to retaliate by leading a raid on the kitchen's foodstocks that night. Linguini catches the rats in the act and chases them all out, including Remy, telling the rat he never wants to see him again. Remy, dejected, is captured by Skinner. In his cage, Remy has one final conversation with his phantom Gusteau, who tells him that the rat never needed his guidance and at that moment, he is freed by Django and Emile. Remy returns to the kitchen, where a frantic Linguini apologizes and asks Remy back to help. Linguini then reveals the truth about Remy to the staff, resulting in a mass walk-out by the heartbroken disbelievers; Colette later returns after recalling Gusteau's motto: "Anyone can cook."

Impressed by his son's determination, Django organizes the rest of the pack to help out in the kitchen. They throw Skinner and a health inspector, bound and gagged, into the freezer when they try to interfere. Linguini uses roller skates to wait on all the tables by himself, while Remy and Colette work together to prepare a variation on ratatouille for Ego. Ego is amazed by the dish, which evokes childhood memories of his mother's cooking, and asks to see the chef. Linguini and Colette wait until all the other customers leave to introduce Remy to Ego. Ego writes a glowing review of the meal the next day, declaring Remy to be "nothing less than the finest chef in France."

In the dénouement, Gusteau's is closed down by the health inspector, and Ego loses his job and his credibility as a food critic for praising a restaurant filled with rats. However, he eagerly funds a new restaurant run by Linguini and Colette, featuring dining areas for both humans and rats and a kitchen designed for Remy to continue cooking. The film ends showing a long queue outside and a sign displaying a rat wearing a toque and holding a spoon, above it the name "La Ratatouille."

Production

Jan Pinkava came up with the concept and directed the film from 2001, creating the original design, sets and characters and core storyline.[3] Lacking confidence[4] in Pinkava's story development, Pixar management replaced him with Bird in 2005.[5][6][7] Bird was attracted to the film because of the outlandishness of the concept and the conflict that drove it: that kitchens feared rats, yet a rat wanted to work in one.[8] Bird was also delighted that the film could be made a highly physical comedy,[5] with the character of Linguini providing endless fun for the animators.[9] Bird rewrote the story, with a change in emphasis. He killed off Gusteau, gave larger roles to Skinner and Colette,[10] and also changed the appearance of the rats to be less anthropomorphic.[11]

Because Ratatouille is intended to be a romantic, lush vision of Paris, giving it an identity distinct from previous Pixar films,[5] director Brad Bird, producer Brad Lewis and some of the crew spent a week in the city to properly understand its environment, taking a motorcycle tour and eating at five top restaurants.[12] There are also many water-based sequences in the film, one of which is set in the sewers and is more complex than the blue whale scene in Finding Nemo. One scene has Linguini wet after jumping into the Seine to fetch Remy. A Pixar employee (Shade/Paint Dept Coordinator Kesten Migdal) jumped into Pixar's swimming pool wearing a chef's uniform and apron to see which parts of the suit stuck to his body and which became translucent from water absorption.[13]

Food design

A challenge for the filmmakers was creating computer-generated food animations that would appear delicious. Gourmet chefs in both the U.S. and France were consulted[11] and animators attended cooking classes at San Francisco-area culinary schools[14] to understand the workings of a commercial kitchen. Sets/Layout Dept Manager Michael Warch, a culinary-academy trained professional chef prior to working at Pixar, helped teach and consult animators as they worked. He also prepared dishes used by the Art, Shade/Paint, Effects and Sets Modeling Departments.[15][16] Renowned chef Thomas Keller allowed producer Brad Lewis to intern in his French Laundry kitchen. For the film's climax, Keller designed a fancy, layered version of the title dish for the rat characters to cook, which he called "confit byaldi" in honor of the original Turkish name.[14] The same sub-surface light scattering technique that was used on skin in The Incredibles was used on fruits and vegetables,[17] while new programs gave an organic texture and movement to the food.[18] Completing the illusion were music, dialogue, and abstract imagery representing the characters' mental sensations while appreciating food. The visual flavor metaphors were created by animator Michel Gagné inspired by the work of Oscar Fischinger and Norman McLaren.[19] To create a realistic compost pile, the Art Department photographed fifteen different kinds of produce, such as apples, berries, bananas, mushrooms, oranges, broccoli, and lettuce, in the process of rotting.[20]

Character design

According to Pixar designer Jason Deamer, "Most of the characters were designed while Jan [Pinkava] was still directing... He has a real eye for sculpture."[21] For example, according to Pinkava, the critic Anton Ego was designed to resemble a vulture.[22] Rat expert Debbie Ducommun (a.k.a. the "Rat Lady") was consulted on rat habits and characteristics.[23] A vivarium containing pet rats sat in a hallway for more than a year so animators could study the movement of the animals' fur, noses, ears, paws, and tails as they ran.[17] The cast members strove to make their French accents authentic yet understandable. John Ratzenberger notes that he often segued into an Italian accent.[12]

To save time, human characters were designed and animated without toes.[24] Despite this, the movie had such high design values that the human characters were even given burn marks on their forearms, as if they had received them from the kitchen stoves.

Cast

Main characters

  • Patton Oswalt as Remy. Director Brad Bird chose him to voice narrate after hearing his food-related comedy routine.[8]
  • Brad Garrett as Auguste Gusteau (whose first name and last name are anagrams of each other). Many reviewers believe that Gusteau is inspired by real-life chef Bernard Loiseau, who committed suicide after media speculation that his flagship restaurant, La Côte d'Or, was going to be downgraded from three Michelin stars to two.[27] La Côte d'Or was one of the restaurants visited by Brad Bird and others in France.[12]
  • Brian Dennehy as Django, the father of Remy and Emile. His name is never mentioned in the film.

Other characters

  • Will Arnett as Horst, Gusteau's German sous chef
  • Julius Callahan as Lalo, Gusteau's saucier, and François, Skinner's Malaysian advertising executive
  • James Remar as Larousse, a chef at Gusteau's
  • John Ratzenberger as Mustafa, Gusteau's head waiter
  • Teddy Newton as Talon Labarthe, Skinner's lawyer
  • Tony Fucile as Pompidou, a chef at Gusteau's, and the Health Inspector
  • Jake Steinfeld as Git, a former lab rat and member of Django's colony
  • Brad Bird as Ambrister Minion, Ego's butler
  • Stéphane Roux as the narrator of the cooking channel
  • Thomas Keller as a dining patron[14]
  • Jamie Oliver as the Inspector in the British version

Music

Brad Bird reteamed with Michael Giacchino on the score for Ratatouille since they got along well during the scoring of The Incredibles. Giacchino had written two themes for Remy, one about his thief self and the other about his hopes and dreams. He also wrote a buddy theme for both Remy and Linguini that plays when they're together. In addition to the score, Giacchino wrote the main theme song, "Le Festin", about Remy and his wishes to be a chef. Camille was hired to perform "Le Festin" after Giacchino listened to her music and realized she was perfect for the song; as a result, the song is sung in French in all versions of the film. The music for Ratatouille gave Giacchino his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score as well as his first Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album.

Release

Ratatouille's world premiere was on June 22, 2007 at Los Angeles' Kodak Theater.[28] The commercial release was one week later, with the Academy Award nominated short film Lifted preceding Ratatouille in theaters.[29] A special pre-release of the film was shown at the Harkins Cine Capri Theater in Scottsdale, Arizona on June 16, 2007 at which a Pixar representative was present to collect viewer feedback.

Marketing

The trailer for Ratatouille debuted with the release of its immediate predecessor, Cars. It depicts an original scene where Remy is caught on the cheese trolley in the restaurant's dining area sampling the cheese and barely escaping the establishment, intercut with separate scenes of the rat explaining directly to the audience why he is taking such risks. Similar to most of Pixar's teaser trailers, the scene was not present in the final film release.

A second trailer was released on March 23, 2007.[30] The Ratatouille Big Cheese Tour began on May 11, 2007, with cooking demonstrations and a film preview.[31] Voice actor Lou Romano attended the San Francisco leg of the tour for autograph signings.[32]

The front label of the planned Ratatouille wine to have been promoted by Disney, Pixar, and Costco, and subsequently pulled for its use of a cartoon character.

Disney and Pixar were working to bring a French-produced Ratatouille-branded wine to Costco stores in August 2007, but abandoned plans because of complaints from the California Wine Institute, citing standards in labeling that restrict the use of cartoon characters to avoid attracting under-age drinkers.[33]

In the United Kingdom, in place of releasing a theatrical trailer, a theatrical commercial featuring Remy and Emile was released in cinemas prior to its release to discourage obtaining pirated films.[34] Also in the United Kingdom, the main characters were used for a theatrical commercial for the Nissan Note, with Remy and Emile watching an original commercial for it made for the "Surprisingly Spacious" ad campaign and also parodying it respectively.[35]

Disney/Pixar were concerned that audiences, particularly children, would not be familiar with the word "ratatouille" and its pronunciation. The title was therefore also spelt phonetically within trailers and on posters.[36][37] For similar reasons, in the American release of the film, on-screen text in French was printed in English, such as the title of Gusteau's cookbook and the sign telling kitchen staff to wash their hands, though in the British English release, these are rendered in French. In Canada, the film was released theatrically with text in English, but on DVD, the majority of the text (including Gusteau's will) was in French.

Blu-ray Disc & DVD release

Ratatouille was released on high-definition Blu-ray Disc and standard DVD in North America on November 6, 2007.[38] One of the special features on the disc is a new animated short film featuring Remy and Emile entitled Your Friend the Rat, in which the two rats attempt to entreat the (human) viewer to welcome rats as their friends, demonstrating the benefits and misconceptions of rats towards humanity through several historical examples. The eleven minute short uses 3D animation, 2D animation, live action and even stop motion animation, a first for Pixar.[39]

The disc also includes a CG short entitled Lifted. This is the short that aired before the film during its theatrical run. It depicts an adolescent extraterrestrial attempting to abduct a sleeping human. Throughout the sequence, he is graded by an adult extraterrestrial in a manner reminiscent of a driver's licensing exam road test. The entire short contains no dialogue (which is typical of Pixar Shorts not based on existing properties).

Also included among the special features deleted scenes, a featurette featuring Brad Bird discussing filmmaking and Chef Thomas Keller discussing culinary creativity entitled "Fine Food and Film", and four easter eggs.

Reception

Box office

In its domestic opening weekend, Ratatouille opened in 3,940 theaters and debuted at #1 with $47 million,[40] the lowest Pixar opening since A Bug's Life. However, in France, where the film is set, the film broke the record for the biggest debut for an animated film.[41] In the UK, the film debuted at #1 with sales over £4million.[42] As of January 13, 2008 the film has grossed $206,445,654 in North America and a total of $624,445,654 worldwide, making it the fourth highest grossing Pixar film now, just behind Finding Nemo, Up and The Incredibles.[43]

Critical reaction

Critical reaction to the film was almost unanimously positive. On film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Ratatouille has a 96% rating from a sample of 205 reviews,[44] while it has a Metacritic score of 96 based on 37 reviews, the seventh-highest score of all on the website as of November 2009.[45]

Ratatouille was nominated for five Oscars including Best Animated Feature Film, which it won. At the time, the film held the record for the greatest number of Oscar nominations for a computer animated feature film, breaking the previous record held by Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles at four nominations, but tied with Aladdin for any animated film. In 2008, WALL-E surpassed that record with 6 nominations. Now, Ratatouille tied with Up to be the second most Oscar nominations for animated film. Beauty and the Beast still holds the record for most Oscar nominations (also 6) for a traditional hand-drawn animated film.

A. O. Scott of The New York Times called Ratatouille "a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film" and ended his review with a simple "thank you" to the creators of the film.[46] Both Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and Jeffrey Lyons from NBC's Reel Talk said in their reviews that they loved the film so much, they are hoping for a sequel.[47][48] Reaction to the film in France was also extremely positive.[49][50] Thomas Sotinel, film critic at the daily newspaper Le Monde, hailed Ratatouille as "one of the greatest gastronomic films in the history of cinema".[51] Several reviews noted that Anton Ego's critique at the end of the movie could be taken, and at least in one case was taken,[52] as "a slap on the wrist" for professional critics.[53][54]

Top ten lists

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.[55]

Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Original Score, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay and Animated Feature Film, winning only the last one.[59] Further more Ratatouille was nominated for 13 Annie Awards including twice in the Best Animated Effects, where it lost to Surf's Up, and three times in the Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production for Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm, and Patton Oswalt, where Ian Holm won the nomination.[60] It won the Best Animated Feature Award from multiple associations including the Chicago Film Critics,[61] the National Board of Review,[62] the Annie Awards,[60] the Broadcast Film Critics,[63] the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA), and the Golden Globes.[64]

Similar films

If magazine described Ratatoing, a 2007 Brazilian computer graphics cartoon by company Vídeo Brinquedo, as a "ripoff" of Ratatouille.[65] Marcus Aurelius Canônico of Folha de S. Paulo described Ratatoing as a derivative of Ratatouille. Canônico discussed whether lawsuits from Pixar would appear. The Brazilian Ministry of Culture posted Marcus Aurelius Canônico's article on its website.[66]

References

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