I’ve seen very few of the big films this summer. For some reason, they all turn me off, even when I liked previous films in the franchise.
Ratatouille, on the other hand, is fantastic. Whatever Brad Bird wants to make next, I’ll be first in line to see it: I love all three of his films, but Ratatouille the most of all. I’m sure it’s partly because I’m a foodie, but there’s a lot more to the film. A lot of critics have picked up on the anomaly of a mainstream movie at least partially aimed at children that is praising good taste and a life devoted to aesthetic pleasure. What I think is almost more startling is that it is a film whose most emotionally moving scene centers on the importance and usefulness of cultural criticism when it is done honestly, on the importance of discerning judgements about taste and beauty. It might be the first time I’ve ever found myself tearing up while listening to a critic read a theoretical statement about his craft.
What I like is also that Bird isn’t an axe-grinding crank about his messages: they’re gentle but heartfelt, open to contradiction and nested in character and circumstance rather than written on neon floating above the story.