20 November 2007
Ratatouille is one of the best movies about cooking ever made. Not only is there amazing animation, not only did Brad Bird (of The Incredibles and The Iron Giant) create it, but Pixar worked with Thomas Keller as a consultant. I'd say that it easily tops Big Night as my previous favorite movie about cooking. I was getting hungry while watching it and returned to the kitchen the next day with renewed enthusiasm.
I wanted to focus on an interesting point with the above photo and the detail to the right. It's a movie that talks about food in a deeply passionate way (even it is through the mind of a rat), but it is also ostensibly a children's movie without child characters and the adults act like adults. Including enjoying wine with dinner or after work. In this shot, the head chef is pouring a glass of Chateau Latour. That's some impressive product placement--no bottles of Coke or Nike shoes here.
This, in an era when the first seasons of Sesame Street are being released on DVD with a parental advisory due to things like Cookie Monster smoking a pipe. It is rare in programming geared towards kids that you ever see responsible (let alone discriminating) consumption of wine. Typically it's an afterschool special about a drunk uncle or some bad kid at school sneaking a bottle of Goldschlager and getting sick. In Ratatouille, no one gets drunk or violent due to a lovingly rendered glass of wine.
The computer animation on the kitchen, the ingredients, and the final dishes is amazing. There were no children present when The Girlfriend and I watched it (the DVD was a gift from her), so I didn't get in trouble when I blurted an expletive as leeks were chopped. It was textbook perfect--the suspension of disbelief was complete. It was obvious that the artists and animators had actually studied the behavior of leeks and how they look when sliced. It's a very minor point, but if you love food you'll find yourself marveling at the crumb structure on bread and many other little details.