Culture

"Willard Meets Like Water for Chocolate"

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That's film critic Kyle Smith's funny description of the Disney/Pixar smersh hit, Ratatouille, which I didn't care for too much, though it did make me want to eat more vegetables.

Smith liked the film alot and teases out an Ayn Rand connection, which makes sense given the involvement of Incredibles auteur Brad Bird:

If there is an Ayn Rand School for Tots like the one Maggie once escaped from on "The Simpsons " (for which Brad Bird used to work), its mandatory texts must be "The Incredibles" and this movie. Anton Ego, a critic who looks like he runs a funeral parlor for all the dreams he's murdered, is an Addams Family version of Ellsworth Toohey from Rand's "The Fountainhead;" when Linguini kisses his colleague Colette, she is so blown away that she drops her can of Mace, which seems like a parody of the famous date rape encounter in "The Fountainhead;" Colette calls false modesty just another way to lie (Rand, in "Atlas Shrugged": "This, she knew, was a tribute to her, the rarest one person could pay another, the tribute of feeling free to acknowledge one's own greatness"); and there is a lone-wolf twist to the Disney lost-child formula. Remy, like Rand's heroes, is driven by his own creation urge, regardless of community approval. He won't go back to his family; they must come to him.

More here.

Hat Tip: Emmanuelle Richard, journaliste.

The Onion A/V Club, an always-interestin' review section, interviews Bird a few years back here.

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  1. I’m a fan of Ayn Rand, but why all of the sudden attention? Is it her birthday or something?

  2. “liked the film alot ”

    argh!

  3. I don’t see how anybody could not like Ratatouille, it featured one mind-blowing animated sequence after another.

  4. I loved Ratatouille. It explains a lot about French cuisine, including the wide variety of cheeses.

  5. He’s kidding, right?
    Right…?

  6. I saw the film opening day – Loved it!

    The Rand connection is easy to spot with Brad Bird. But it is a mistake to label his works libertarian fables. In Ratatouille, the ethical subplot is in regards to thievery.

    Remy: Face it Dad. We’re thieves and what we’re stealing, is garbage.

    Dad: It’s not stealing if nobody wants it.

    Remy: If nobody wants it, then why are we taking it?

  7. “Cooks are makers. thieves are takers. Be a maker, not a taker.”

  8. A fine film, but the only Pixar production that seemed a bit too long to me. I’m not sure what I’d cut, but I don’t think all the Pixar films from Toy Story through The Incredibles had five excess minutes between them.

    The UFO-themed short “Lifted” is also quite funny.

  9. If all this Rand bullshit is going to continue, I am going to have to change my “favorites”.

    Enough of the insufferable bitch already!

  10. My non-political take here.

    Now that they’ve been pointed out to me, I see the parallels with The Fountainhead, but I still think it’s a bit of a stretch. Remember, for example, that Remy doesn’t set out to be a cook until he is accidentally separated from his family. Even then it is Linguini who convinces him to their partnership.

  11. PS:

    Please tell me all the “adults” watching these films are just accompanying children at the theater. Please.

  12. Ratatouille… Anyone remember the old Au Pied de Cochon on Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown? Buddies and I used to wander in their drunk at like 2 or 3 in the AM (it was open 24/7) during college and get big heaping bowls of the stuff… waiter once confided that the ratatouille was never emptied and the bowl it was stewing in never cleaner and that they only added additional ingredients daily.. a tradition that had gone on for decades.

    YUM!

  13. Enough of the insufferable bitch already!

    H&R is hardly an Objectivist outpost, henry. If anything, given your emotional outburst, you should savor all the attacks on Rand you’ll find here. Did you know, for instance, that her love scenes are “creepy”? That she ate babies for lunch? That she thought that anyone not as smart as her should be marched to the gas chamber? Stick around, you’ll learn something.

  14. Anton Ego, a critic who looks like he runs a funeral parlor for all the dreams he’s murdered, is an Addams Family version of Ellsworth Toohey

    Spoiler:

    This is written by someone who understood neither the book nor the movie. Ego has more in common with Dominique; the one who can’t find anything to love so lashes out at everything pretending to be of value. When Ego finally is presented with a dish of quality and creativity, he melts, gives up his job, and becomes a dedicated patron. He could not be more anti-Toohey.

  15. In fact, I really appreciated the film’s take on the critic’s relationship to the creator.

    Sorry, no kids with me, I was ‘pre-watching’ it to see if my kiddos would get it.

    Oh yea, it also has a gun-wielding granny for us guns-rights types.

  16. I have watched most of the Pixar films without kids. Pixar is one of the few studios that understands “it’s the story stupid”.

    The Incredibles is the best Bond movie ever made.

  17. Ratatouille was an absolute delight. I initially had no interest in it, but realized after reading reviews that Remy is essentially playing a G-rated version of Gordon Ramsay in his exceptional culinary fix-up show Kitchen Nightmares. I bit, so to speak. Awesome fare.

  18. I’ve read Fountainhead, and I’m halfway through Atlas (Ragnar just gave Rearden the gold). I’m a lover of logic and reason, a dedicated amateur philosopher, and a fan of Rand, Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, and Dave Sims of Cerebus.

    I have to say, these seem to be surface resemblances. The deeper resonance, as I posted on my latest blog post, is postmodernism.

    Remy defies the system, refusing to accept the categories that he is presented with. “I’m not a human,” he says, “and I’m not a rat. I am a chef.”

    This story does fulfill the Randian ideals of self-determination and of building one’s own future with one’s own paws … er, hands. I also want to point out that objectivism and postmodernism can be syncretized, for sufficiently reasonable forms of postmodernism.

  19. I just took my 10 year old daughter to Ratatouille last night. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

    To further the Randian analysis: Linguini is Peter Keating, presenting Remy’s creation as his own.

  20. I’m a lover of logic and reason, a dedicated amateur philosopher, and a fan of Rand, Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, and Dave Sims of Cerebus.

    There’s no bigger Dave Sim fan than me, but the man abandoned logic and reason long ago.

  21. It was a good movie, I personally am not an objectivist philosophically, but I loved Ayn Rands novel Anthem, and most people who have read the books probably noticed the connection quickly. The collective nature of the rats that Remy rejects, his self esteem, determination, creative desire. The critical and or parasitical nature of the villains. But honestly, the best part of the movie for me was the trunk scene, I am writing a novel, and I have a scene similar to that, so I got pissed, then I relaxed.

  22. And by the way, Linguini is Peter Keating, the parasite of Roark (Remy) Kinda obvious, hard to not notice. But still great movie.

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