I’ve been a big fan of Pixar ever since Toy Story 2. They make consistently wonderful animated films that have great stories and technical brilliance to boot. I always walk into the theater not knowing what to expect and (almost) always walk out impressed. But, with Ratatouille, I was very impressed. So impressed, that I am willing to say Ratatouille is the finest animated film that I have ever seen.
The first reason I say this is because of its artistic brilliance. Everything in Ratatouille is just luscious to behold and has its own sense of reality, while still being animated. The voice actors are impeccable, especially the great Peter O’Toole voicing food critic Anton Ego (what a great name). The story is well-written, multi-layered, and as enjoyable for adults as it would be for children. Children might even get a bit tired of this one with its 112 minute running time and avoidance of the usual kids movie clichés. It’s a solid, great film from all directions … something that is rarely seen in most animated fare.
Plus, it’s just such a fun movie to watch. I laughed out loud many times and don’t think that a smile left my face from the television screen at the opening, to the excellent monologue at the end.
Any of the things I’ve mentioned above (or the likes of them) can be seen in most of Pixar’s achievements. What makes Ratatouille such a special piece of film is its simple, yet profound message about appreciating excellence and beauty.
As Remy, the main rat character of the film, watches his family and friends eat a steady diet of garbage, he is disgusted. Remy has excellent taste. He tries to seek out new and delicious foods (which aren’t that hard to find!). He is discerning and finds nourishing things to eat instead of being content with the typical garbage that his compatriots are satisfied eating. The vital importance of excellence is a lesson that the filmmakers behind Ratatouille know well. They have taken the concept to heart and have created one of the finest examples of meaningful, popular art that I have ever seen.
“Excellence matters” is also a lesson that needs to be taken to heart by many people living in our culture and a message that I am passionate about. I so badly want people to experience and appreciate excellence! There are so many artists out there, trying to do their very best, just waiting to be appreciated. As Anton Ego says in the closing act of Ratatouille: “The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations … the new needs friends.” That it does.
So, make friends with something new today. Look deeper at the world you live in. Think, for a change. You’ll find things you never dreamed of and always hoped for waiting just for you in the places that you’d least expect. Don’t get to addicted and attached to things that are disposable and of no consequence, but seek out something excellent. You might just find that it has the capability to enrich your life for the better.