Last night Alisa and I saw Ratatouille. I had been talking about it all week, but wasn't feeling in the mood for a kids' flick around 10pm on a Saturday. Even so, A.O. Scott called it an "almost flawless piece of popular art," so I couldn't find a good reason not to go.
My expectations for the film - already preposterously high - were not just met, but exceeded. I have not been so thoroughly entertained by a film since at least last year's Brick, or more likely, 2004's Eternal Sunshine.
We got to the movie a half-hour early, and despite a packed 42nd St. theater, found incredible seats in the ideal row. That set the tone for me. I'm probably the most anxious moviegoer you know. If I don't arrive 45 mins. early for a new release, I'll be clawing the taxicab leather as we make our way uptown. So finding a perfect seat and not arriving preposterously early was a bit like getting an Indian Head penny with your change.
After Regal's totally obnoxious pre-show "entertainment," and a few relatively obnoxious previews (including one for a new Cuba Gooding Jr. movie about camp, which looks as bad as it sounds), Pixar treated us to a warm-up cartoon called "Lifted," about an alien studying for his body-snatching license. It was much less creepy - and much funnier - than it sounds.
As for Ratatouille itself, there's not much to say that Sr. Scott hasn't already covered. Dir. Brad Bird (also helmed the The Incredibles, which I now will rush to rent) made a film that is both completely adult and a complete joy to children at the same time. It's also relentlessly upbeat. You know how in the third act, the hero must fall to depths never before reached, linger there for a while, only to eventually resurface? The depths that Bird makes his hero, Remy, go through are neither so dark nor - more importantly - so annoying as those in other kids' cartoons.
Five stars, two thumbs up, etc., etc.