Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ratatouille leftovers

Even though I usually avoid G-rated movies like the President avoids troop withdrawal bills--or reality--the G-rated Ratatouille is the summer movie I've been looking forward to the most before its release because 1) it stars the voice of one of my comedy idols, Patton Oswalt, 2) it's writer/director Brad Bird's follow-up to The Incredibles, my favorite Pixar flick, and 3) it features an original score by Incredibles and Lost composer Michael Giacchino. I'm not as familiar with Giacchino's filmography outside of Pixar and Bad Robot, but is this Giacchino's first foray into romantic comedy?

Ratatouille is a love story, but it's not your usual one. The main romance of the film is not the Linguini/Colette relationship--it's Remy the rat's love of cooking and fine dining. Giacchino's lush and playful score beautifully captures Remy's optimism and enthusiasm for the art of cooking without getting all overly gooey on us, which is why I'm adding to "Assorted Fistful" rotation four cues from the Walt Disney Records release of Giacchino's Ratatouille soundtrack.

Other things I dug about Ratatouille: the clever casting of Ian Holm, who played a similar "sellout" restaurateur character in the Deep Throat of food porn flicks, Big Night; Bird's jabs at the merchandising tactics of a certain parent company with a name that rhymes with "piznee" (during the scenes in which Holm's villainous Skinner plans to launch an inane line of frozen dinners exploiting the image of his deceased former boss, celebrity chef Gusteau); and the refreshing absence of corny and unsubtle pop culture reference gags that have been abundant in sub-Pixar animated flicks.

Was the casting of Brian Dennehy as Remy's dad Django an intentional nod to one of Oswalt's greatest stand-up bits, his parody of Robert Evans' strange ESPN radio ads ("A heroin-crazed Brian Dennehy burst into my trailer and punched me in the solar plexus...")? It must have rocked Oswalt's world when he found out one of the celebs he name-dropped in his Evans routine was cast as his dad. And it would have been even cooler if the animators threw in a moment in which Django put his arm around his son and then lightly punched him in the solar plexus.

Next on my list of summer flicks I want to see: The Simpsons Movie, followed by The Bourne Ultimatum, Superbad, Live Free or Die Hard, and Sam Witwicky: The Movie (why so much focus on Shia LaBeouf in the commercials?--I understand Paramount wants to create an aura of mystery with the new versions of Optimus, Bumblebee and Megatron, but the LeBeouf-heavy ads are like if someone did a feature film version of The Munsters and gave most of the screen time to Marilyn).

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