This post will publish the moment Sean and I, in Paris and thus “6 hours into the future” will set foot into Guy Savoy, a beautiful 3-star Michelin restaurant, the second most-expensive in the world, where we hope to eat caviar, drink champagne, and delight over brioches slathered in truffle butter. There will be 35 chefs in the kitchen preparing dinner for 60 hungry people and we will hope, hope hope hope, that none are rats. That none so much as have a rat in their hat.
Ratatouille is one of Sean’s favourite Pixar movies, probably because Sean loves food, but possibly also because Sean doesn’t have the classic aversion to rats that the rest of us do – his family idiotically kept them as pets (RIP Robbie and Bambam). So did the animators of Ratatouille. Rats lined the hallways of the Pixar studios so that animators could get their whiskers and tails and paws just right.
The film’s protagonist, a rat named Remy, is rendered with over a million individual hairs (his human counterparts have a tenth that – still impressive!). Little Remy dreams of becoming a great French chef despite the fact that his family’s against it, and you know, he’s also a rat. And restaurants hate rats. But he encounters a laconic chef named Linguine who benefits from Remy’s passion and skill.
The bad guy is the Head Chef, Skinner. This character is named after behavioural psychologist B.F. Skinner, who was known for the Skinner Box, where he made rats push a button for food over and over again.
This is the first Disney movie to feature a bastard. You know, as in, a kid born out of wedlock. Shocking! However, plenty of Disney movies have featured orphaned or partially-orphaned children – disproportionately so, one would hope.
To get the feel of the city just right, Brad Bird took a team up to Paris for a week where they buzzed around on motorcycles and ate at its top five restaurants (certainly Guy Savoy would have been on their list – it’s actually in the top 20 of the world). I feel sort of silly for not figuring out how to get my bosses to pay for my trip. And then I remember I’m self-employed. So I guess she kind of is! Meanwhile, the animators back home got to study and photograph rotting vegetables in order to render a realistic compost pile. No jealousy in that office, I’m sure.
Anyway, while the lucky ones were in Paris, they came across quite a sight, which made its way into the movie: a window shop displaying dead rats! Sounds weird but it’s a real shop that you can find (and we just might) in the first arrondissement called Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles. It’s an exterminator, established 1872, and quite a curiosity, but I don’t think I’ll be shopping for souvenirs there.
I may, however, be staking out their fine wines to bring home to our wine cellar if only we have the weight to spare in our suitcase. There’s a surprising amount of wine to be seen in this children’s movie – the restaurant critic Anto Ego orders a Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947, a Grand Cru, and obviously quite a vintage. This baby would set you back at least two grand, so for the second time in this film review, I’m left commenting: damn. How can I possibly bill that one to my boss? I’m clearly in the wrong profession! John Lasseter, Pixar head honcho, has a winery in Sonoma Valley and a bottle of his Lasseter Cabernet Sauvignon can be seen in the background.
This is a delicious little movie and I hope you’ll give it a watch if you haven’t already!