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The International Writers Magazine: Rat Movies

Nicloe Folger

This has to be the best Disney/Pixar film I have seen in an awfully long time. This is the one that will be joining the classics, it’s just got something that the last few Disney attempts haven’t had. Perhaps it’s the cute and fluffy rats running about all over the screen. Well now, there’s a sentence you don’t see every day.
Actually, I’ll be honest, the image of hundreds of rats falling down from the ceiling and swarming out of an old lady’s idyllic little cottage wasn’t exactly a comforting sight but Pixar have this amazing knack (or should I say technology) that captures the movement of the rats that just seems to be so real. The way their tails flick and swish; the way their noses twitch, even the way their chests move so rapidly you almost don’t see it as their heartbeats race. It really gave Remy the life that some animation loses.

Okay, so we’ve established that Remy is a rat. A rat who has an unusual passion, Remy wants to cook. I honestly thought it might be a bit of a rubbish story but it really did work! Remy becomes separated from his garbage guzzling family when they are discovered and chased from their home. He ends up in Paris where he is spoken to by his idol, the famous chef Gusteau. Gusteau acts as Remy’s conscious in a way reminiscent of Jiminy Cricket reminding him not to steal food and to believe in and be true to himself; a traditional Disney message. Remy meets and befriends a young kitchen garbage boy, Linguini, when he catches him messing up the soup in Gusteau’s restaurant and can’t help but stop and put it right letting his nose and his heart lead him into an unconventional friendship and a whole lot of trouble.

It’s not a laugh until your sides split type film but true to form it has many of the Disney one-liners (I don’t mean to be rude but we are French!) and of course the French accents are particularly bad, although not as bad as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast and yes, the boy does get the girl. I know it’s a little predictable but maybe sometimes we maybe need a bit of the predictable in our lives? Perhaps its part of the charm. There’s no hard-hitting political message behind this film it’s simple, funny and the characters are loveable-just the way Disney is supposed to be.

Different personas are created through the look and voices of the characters, Anton Ego (how fantastic is that!) the critic, has a vampiric, hunched look with a sallow face and slightly pointed teeth, his study is dark and rich and shaped like a coffin; symbolising in an amusing way the fear he strikes into the hearts of all in the restaurant business. Linguini is tall, gangly and clumsy with a lopsided smile and big puppy dog eyes; the money driven head chef Skinner is a tiny man who has to use a step ladder to see through the kitchen windows and has a big attitude that more than makes up for his height. Colette is a feisty, independent woman who is hiding a soft centre. Each character’s appearance suits the personality and they all have hidden depths. Even the more minor characters have charm and personality. Emile, Remy’s brother, couldn’t give a stuff what he puts into his mouth but he remains loyal to his brothers wayward ideas. The cooks all have secret pasts leading to a Schwarzenegger style quote "I once killed a man, with just this thumb."

Then of course there is Remy himself, who in true Disney style, almost gives up on his dreams and very nearly sabotages Linguini’s career; but in the end he ultimately does the right thing and helps his new friend win over tough critic Ego.

Really, I’m trying not to give away too much of the plot because I think this is a film that everyone needs to see. It’s truly universal, unless you hate rats in which case you may want to sit this one out.

This film really delivers for young and old alike; so hats off to Disney/Pixar they seem to be back on form. It’s cute, it’s funny but in a word, it’s charming. So get on down to your local cinema and start re-living your childhood; this is classic Disney at its best.

© Nicole October 2007

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