Thursday, July 12, 2007

Daily Figment 08 - Orson Scott Card & Ratatouille

In keeping with yesterday's theme of a prominent writer defending Disney (albeit in 1958), I thought I would post something a little more current from a prominent writer that is still prolific today, Orson Scott Card. Mr Card is a prominent science fiction writer (ala Bradbury) that has several texts that are taught in today's schools. He also pens illustrated novels for Marvel as well as recent forays into video game development. He is the winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and John W Campbell awards for achievements in science fiction writing. One of his most distinguished novels, Enders Game, is currently in development at Warner Brothers.

It is no secret that Disney Geek George (no slouch in the world of books himself) rates Mr Card as his FAVORITE author. Here is Mr Card's recent review of Ratatouille as published in the Rhinoceros Times Greensboro from Thursday, July 5th:

The promos for Ratatouille looked funny and cute, and it was from Pixar, which has a record of making even dumb film ideas into wonderful movies. For instance, The Incredibles actually did a better job of the multiple-superhero movie than the supposedly much-more-serious League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Fantastic Four.

But at the same time ... really, folks, a rat that cooks haute cuisine in a French restaurant? Comedy only works if you care. How are they going to make me care about a rat that for some absurd reason has a yen to be a chef?

Here's the miracle: It not only works, it works brilliantly. It's funny all the way through – I joined the whole audience in laughing aloud at bit after bit. But it's also delightfully emotional. I actually found myself caring, about the rat and even more about the charmingly inept would-be chef named Linguini.

The animation is extraordinarily expressive – while there are famous actors playing some parts, nobody was cast for star power. Instead, they were cast because they were exactly right for the part.

Janeane Garofalo, for instance, is marvelous as the hard-as-nails female chef who is ordered to take Linguini under her wing and train him. Ian Holm is great as Skinner, and Peter O'Toole absolutely rocks as the ice-hearted food critic Anton Ego.

The movie not only tells a funny, heartwarming story that makes you cheer at the sight of a kitchen full of rats, it also manages to be smart about the relationship between critics and artists of any kind.

At the end of the movie, you don't really believe in Chef Gusteau's slogan that "anybody can cook." But you do gain a much greater appreciation for those who do it well.

Orson, meet Ray. Ray, meet Orson.
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