Ah … rats
What the hell is Pixar thinking? I mean, rats. Rats in the kitchen. Rats with human-like faces in the kitchen, cooking the food. I don’t have any phobias concerning rats, but this thing made me queasy.
It might be that (for me) Pixar is getting too good at what it does—visually. On a narrative level, it was just more of the Pixar cookie-cutter narrative: natter, natter, natter … go for your dreams … friends are cool.
In Ratatouille, a rat gets swept up and dumped in the kitchen of a five-star restaurant struggling to keep its rating. The rat hooks up with a trashcan man, and the two set out to score their dreams together. And yeah, there’s a girl involved.
Of course, it doesn’t help that I consider food a necessary annoyance and annoying expense, so the culinary aspect failed to hook me either. But the animated food looked like it was served straight off of the Food Channel—ah, all that technology at work to deliver 3-D quality representations of food.
But the animation was incredibly well done … to the point where it evoked The Uncanny, as Freud described it, where the ordinary takes a sudden detour into the extraordinary, yet still maintains the comfortable trappings. Pixar takes that route by creating things that should not be and giving them a photo-realistic presence. Like rats with human-like faces.
I got the same queasy feeling watching Cars, but I thought it was just the super-creepy aspect of giant pupils floating around behind the windshields of the titular characters. With Ratatouille, I realize that it’s the animation itself that hits a creepy vibe with me.
Of course, it didn’t help that every human was given an outrrrageous French accent. There’s a reason why French accents are generally kept to one a comedy—fill a kitchen with them and it’s like little rat claws being swept repeatedly across the blackboard.
So I’m probably the only person to give this thing a bad rating. Everyone else likes it, and I’ve given my reasons why I didn’t. This is one really big case of Mileage May Vary. If you’re upset about that, just remember, it’s only a movie—a cartoon, at that. If one bad rating for a cartoon makes you upset, then you really should take a step back and reevaluate.