Ratatouille: Phooey

I haven’t mentioned movies lately, but I am compelled to put something on the record. I don’t care how cute the story, how brilliant the animation: an attic full of rats? No. A kitchen full of rats?

No. No. No.

Who can suspend disbelief watching a river of rats flowing out of a house? My skin crawled, my stomach turned, my physical being rebelled. I was rooting for the old lady with the shotgun. I managed to listen to the whole thing, but I rarely looked up from the sewing in my lap.

For the record: I have nothing against individual rats. The Girlchild has a friend who has a pet rat, a very intelligent little creature I have held in my hand. A very clean, calm, rodent. A single rat without five hundred if its nearest and dearest nearby.

But a rat jumping into a vat of soup in the process of seasoning it? Animated or not:

No no no no no no.

Of course the rest of the chefs walked out when they found out what was going on. I imagine my father sharing a work station with a couple rats. Or rather, I try to imagine this, but it just won’t solidify in my mind’s eye.

So that’s that. My review of Ratatouille. Call me a philistine, call me boring, call me anything you like, but I prefer my food without rodents.

[asa book]0380730359[/asa] While I’m at it, a quick review of Gone, Baby, Gone, the film version of Dennis Lehane’s novel. I have mentioned his series of novels about two private detectives in working class Boston, because I really like them. Gone, Baby, Gone is my favorite of the series, though it is very, very dark. In fact, anyone who is prone to bad dreams probably shouldn’t read the book or see the movie. The subject is kidnapping and pedophilia, and now you’re wondering why in the hell I could like such a story.

[asa book]B0010ZR160[/asa] Coupla reasons. Lehane writes about a working class neighborhood a lot like the Chicago neighborhoods I grew up in, and he captures the atmosphere and the mindset perfectly. He can tell a story and his characters are interesting and complex and often surprising. But mostly I’d have to say I admire this novel because it’s terrifically hard to address the topics raised. Lehane pulls it off with finesse. Which for me means, the horror of the subject is not trivialized nor is it used to titilate. It’s a thoughtful look at a terrible situation, well done.

Bottom line: I liked the movie, but I think that I wouldn’t have liked it if I didn’t know the novel so well. The careful layering that carries the novel along is missing from the movie. It’s just not possible to get those kind of nuances into film. So I recommend the novel, if you are interested in a well told story, and then, if you are curious, the movie.