Dave Rice 12:38 p.m., May 21
Thank You, Steve Jobs
Last night, before I heard that Steve Jobs had died, I put Ratatouille on for my two-year-old. My 14-year-old paused in front of the screen. "Man, just seeing the opening of this film makes me hungry," he said. But he didn't head for the kitchen. My 12-year-old sat down on the couch. "I love this part," he declared as Remy the Rat sampled cheese and strawberries together. He loved it because of the Fantasia-style audio-visual effects that danced around Remy as he ate - the sense of taste, which film cannot convey, represented by sound and vision, which it can.
I watched, too, marveling at the film's use of comedian Patton Oswalt, who provides Remy's voice. Oswalt is very funny. He is also bitter and disappointed for a living. He has a hard time fitting into the world. Ratatouille takes all of Oswalt's frustration and channels it into the story of a rat who wants to be a chef. (A rat! In a restaurant kitchen! That's our hero!) But somehow, Remy's character drains all of the bitterness out of Oswalt's persona without sacrificing any of his humor and charm, and without dulling his frustration with a world he has a hard time fitting into. It's amazing. The whole film is amazing - one of my favorite cinematic treatments of the artistic temperament.
There's an old Peanuts in which Snoopy laments having missed the golden age of so many things - movies, television, etc. He concludes, "I refuse to miss the golden age of sleeping!" Even as a kid, that strip made me melancholy: born too late. These days, it's sometimes hard to believe that golden ages are still possible. But Pixar has given us one, and Steve Jobs had a lot to do with Pixar's success. And for that, I am grateful.