I am a picky eater, just ask my family, or my soon-to-be wife, or my friends, or anyone who has ever eaten with me. It’s not that I don’t necessarily like to try new foods, it’s that I know what I like the most, and given the choice, I will choose those foods. Take for example the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I ate one for lunch every day at school starting in kindergarten, and having eaten so many has given me a very refined sense of what makes a good PB&J to me. It must use JIF Creamy Peanut Butter and Welch’s Concord Grape Jam. Any other brand or type will just not do. I generally go with Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread, if I can find it, but it is really the inside that matters the most. The construction of the sandwich is of the utmost importance. Too much peanut butter and it is sticky and you are forced to drink too much, and too much jelly makes the sandwich soggy and overpowers the flavors. Despite all the conditions, however, any PB&J is generally enjoyable, but not all are the same.
So it is with film. I am certainly very picky when it comes to what I see in the theater. I like anything that is well made, but there are certain types of films I return to when given the choice. For example, 7 of the last 10 films I have seen were animated. And while all were enjoyable, much like any PB&J, Ratatouille was made just the way I like them. A Pixar film is like a sandwich made with exactly the right ingredients. You know to expect the best of the best every time. However, if you have eaten as many sandwiches as I, you know that perhaps every once in a thousand tries, if you’re lucky, you happen to make the perfect sandwich. It cannot be planned, forced, or studied, it just happens. The mix of the ingredients is perfect, just the right balance. And when you take that final bite, instead of feeling satisfied, you feel fulfilled, as if nothing could have possibly been any better. You can’t explain why, you can’t measure it, or quantify it, or even describe it. It’s just perfection. Ratatouille is perfection. It has the indefinable quality of taking something made just the way you like it, and doing it so well that it becomes more than you ever imagined it could be.
So enough with the sandwich metaphor, right? Let me put this in a way easy to understand.
Is Ratatouille the best animated film of the year so far?
Is Ratatouille the best film of the year so far?
Is Ratatouille the best Pixar film yet?
Is Ratatouille the best computer animated film ever?
It just might be.
Is Ratatouille the best animated film ever?
Well, that one is up for debate, but it will almost certainly crack my top 5, if not move all the way to the top. I’ll have to see it a few more times to be sure. It really is perfect, though. It is a story full of heart, but is never sappy or melodramatic. The days when the words animated and cartoon were one and the same are long gone. Films like Ratatouille are truly the great connectors, bringing us all together to a point where we can move past things like “That’s just for kids” and realize that these films are made for all of us. We can all enjoy them and grow together as a result. Nothing in this world compares to sitting in a theater filled with people of all ages, races and backgrounds and sharing the emotional experience of cinema. Lauging, crying, smiling together with strangers who you may never see again. That’s what it’s all about.
So I’ve basically been rambling about everything but Ratatouille but that’s because I really find I lack the words to describe it directly. I can only describe how it makes me feel about other things. It truly is the first great film of the year, and is so far above everything else I’ve seen lately (much of which I very much enjoyed) that it’s hard to even classify. The voice acting is some of the best I’ve seen, the animation has never looked so 100% real, the story was an absolute joy, made for adults but still enjoyable by kids. None of that, however, really does it justice. All I can really say is that it would truly be a tragedy for you to miss it. And that is the highest praise that can be given to any film.
< A+ >
(Also, I’ve been freaking out about WALL-E for months, and the teaser trailer is showing before Ratatouille. It looks to be even better.)