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Extended "Ratatouille" sequence to be screened at Wondercon 2007 this Saturday

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Extended "Ratatouille" sequence to be screened at Wondercon 2007 this Saturday

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Quick question: Are you an animation fan? More importantly, do you live in the Bay Area?

If so, make plans NOW to get over to the Moscone Center this coming Saturday. Which is where Wondercon 2007, Northern California's largest comic book & pop culture convention, will be held tomorrow through Sunday.


Copyright 2004-2007 Comic-Con International. All Rights Reserved

Anyway ... Be sure that you get to the Moscone South no later than mid-morning on Saturday. Then get on line with all of the other animation geeks that you'll find waiting outside the Esplanade Ballroom.

"And why exactly am I getting in this line?," you ask. One word. "Ratatouille."

Not the entire movie, mind you. Just 12 minutes of this not-quite-finished animation feature. But oh what an entertaining 12 minutes those are!

WARNING ! We're about to discuss some of the characters as well as a piece of the plot from "Ratatouille." If you don't want any advance knowledge of this new Brad Bird film before it arrives in theaters this June, now would be a really good time to bail out of JHM.

 

 Still with us?

 

 Okay. Here goes ...

 

Last month, a friend was nice enough to share this footage with me. Which basically establishes the main setting of this new Pixar production. Which is Gusteau's, an upscale Parisian restaurant.

More importantly, this extended sequence introduces most of the characters featured in this new Pixar Animation Studios production. And they include:

  • Remy (Voiced by Patton Oswalt), the rat who dreams of someday becoming a great French chef
  • August Gusteau (Voiced by Brad Garrett), the late master chef who established Gusteau's. Who exists in this film as an encouraging figment of Remy's imagination
  • Skinner (Voiced by Ian Holm), the short & short-tempered chef who now runs the kitchen at Gusteau's
  • Colette (Voiced by Janeane Garofalo), the assistant chef at the restaurant
  • Linguini (Voiced by Lou Romano), the garbage boy at Gusteau's

As this sequence gets underway, Remy & August are staring down through a skylight into the kitchen at Gusteau's. And this rat (who's a dyed-in-the-wool foodie) is in absolute heaven. He's thrilled to see the restaurant's highly trained staff bustling around the kitchen, preparing various gourmet dishes.

But then Remy sees something that absolutely horrifies him. When no one else in the kitchen is watching, Linguini (I.E. The garbage boy at Gusteau's) puts down his mop and starts tossing vegtables & seasonings into that evening's soup.

Remy is just beside himself. "He's ruining the soup," the rat cries to the miniature floating chef. And before Gusteau can do anything to stop him, Remy has forced open the skylight and jumped down into the kitchen.

Ah, but a Parisian restaurant can be a very dangerous place for a rodent like Remy. So this rat has to use stealth as he makes his way across the kitchen. Hopping on a dessert trolley here, slipping into a pot there. Eventually hoping to reach that now-reeking pot of soup.

And this part of the picture -- which is all shot from down low, giving us Remy's point-of-view of the world inside Gusteau -- is a real tour-de-force. With this rat making all sort of hairs-breath escapes (EX: Nearly getting his fur singed as a stove bursts into flame, climbing out of a casserole dish that's been placed inside of a lit oven and jumping to safety just before the door is closed, even enduring a trip out into the restaurant itself where a waiter then mistakes Remy for a pepper grinder) as he tries to cross the kitchen and finally get to that soup that Linguini has accidentally spoiled.


Copyright 2007 Disney / Pixar

And then -- once Remy actually reaches that tainted pot on the stove -- "Rataouille" takes on an almost ballet-like quality. As the rat first thins the broth with some water and then races back & forth across the stove, tossing in additional ingredients in an effort to save the soup.

It's at this point in the picture that Linguini actually sees Remy tossing things in the pot and then traps this well-meaning rat under a collander. Unfortunately, this disturbance catches Chef Skinner's attention. And the obnoxious cook then upbraids the poor garbage boy for daring to disrupt his kitchen.

Mind you, while Skinner is berating Linguini, a waiter sweeps into the kitchen, quickly serves up a bowl of the soup that Remy repaired, then carries it back out into the restaurant. The garbage boy tries to let the chef know what just happened. But Skinner refuses to stop screeching in mid-tirade.

Only when it's far too late to stop that waiter does the chef now learn the truth. That a bowl of soup (That Skinner thinks Linguini has prepared, not Remy) has gone out onto the floor of the restaurant and been served to a customer. And -- to make matters worse -- who has this bowl of soup been served to? One of Paris's most important food critics.

With the restaurant's reputation now potentially lying in ashes, Skinner immediately fires Linguini. But before the garbage boy can actually leave the restaurant, the chef is summoned to the critic's table.

Why For? Because this critic wants to give Skinner his compliments. The soup that Remy prepared (Or should I say repaired?) is an absolute triumph. One of the very best dishes that this food critic has ever tasted.

Skinner then stumbles back into the kitchen, perplexed. The restaurant's garbage boy has prepared a soup that dazzled one of Paris's toughest food critics. That makes no sense. And yet the chef isn't one to let this golden opportunity slip away. Which is why Skinner immediately promotes Linguini from garbage boy to assistant cook.

And what are Linguini's first official duties? To dispose of the rat (Remy) that Skinner has just discovered trying to slip out the kitchen window. The chef insists that the new assistant cook take this rodent far, far away from Gusteau's and then get rid of it.

So -- with Remy trapped in a jar -- Linguini bicycles over to the Seine. Where this now-former garbage boy is supposed to toss the rat in the river. Except that Linguini recognizes Remy as the one who saved the soup that he screwed up.

And then begins this unlikely scene ... Which really shouldn't work. During which Liguini talks with Remy as he sits trapped inside of that jar. And the rat -- strictly through pantomime -- then answers all of the new assistant cook's questions.

But this rather sweet scene does work. And as these two come to an understanding (I.E. That Linguini will let Remy go free if the rat agrees to help the garbage boy learn his way around a kitchen), "Ratatouille" finally officially kicks into gear. As this quiet scene comes to a close, you just can't wait to see what happens to these characters next.

Of course, that'll be the downside of seeing this particular piece of Pixar's latest production this coming Saturday. In that you then won't be able to see the rest of "Ratatouille" 'til this Brad Bird film actually opens in theaters on June 29th.

But the upside is ... As an extra added bonus, "Ratatouille" director Brad Bird and the voice of Remy himself, Patton Oswalt, will be there in the Esplanade Ballroom on Saturday to introduce this special footage. They'll also be taking some questions from the audience about this new animated feature.


Brad Bird (left) and Patton Oswalt (right)
Photos courtesy of Google Images

I know, I know. In a previous story here at JHM, I mentioned that the Mouse faced some real marketing challenges with "Ratatouille." That there were those within the Walt Disney Company who were very concerned that audiences might shy away from an animated feature that stars a rat.

But after having seen just 12 minutes of this movie, I honestly can't understand why anyone at Disney would have ever been worried about "Ratatouille." I mean, it's clear that Brad Bird & his production team have great confidence in the material that they were working with. Which is why they liberally mix laughs & thrills as Remy races across the kitchen in an effort to save that soup. More importantly, they know exactly when to slow things down as the rat & the former garbage boy have that heart-to-heart talk down by the Seine. Giving the audience the time it needs to first get to know these two characters and then come to care for them.

But you know what else is amazing about "Ratatouille"? As soon as you finish watching this footage, you're going to want to find a good restaurant. For Bird & his artists have made all of the food that's shown in this picture look so great, you're definitely going to want to stop for a snack on the way home.

Now entering JHM's spoiler-free zone ...

Speaking of the Moscone ... This "Disney - Pixar presents 'Ratatouille' " presentation is scheduled to run in the Esplanade Ballroom from 12 noon to 1 p.m. And given that Brad Bird & Patton Oswalt's appearance at Wondercon 2007 is almost certain to be one of the more popular events at this year's comic books and pop culture show ... Well, I'd strongly suggest that you get on line as early as possible for this particular show.

For information on all of the other programs & events to be held at Wondercon 2007, click on this link.

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  • Excellent article Jim!  You’ve really been redeeming yourself lately.  

    I have a feeling that this could be one of the most exciting things this summer.  Lets keep out fingers crossed.

  • I am going to be working at a table at the con, but I am sure there will be a buzz on Saturday for all the big movie panels. I am just happy that the hall clears out some and I can walk with out tripping on someone.

    Last year when Wondercon was at a smaller space. the hall had to be closed for an hour during the middle of Saturday due to crowds.  This year they are in a bigger space, but it could still happen if there are enough fan boys and girls who show up. These big Hollywood premiers are a good reason for it to happen.

  • Sounds awesome! I'm just a bit angry with myself for reading the intro now, although since I have to wait til October there's always the chance I'll forget it. Unlikley but you never know.

  • Sounds really exciting. I'm curious to see how the two actually "communicate," 'cause they have to have some problems with that.. But still, coooll!!

    Thanks, Jim. Too bad I don't live anywhere near the Bay Area...

  • Sounds like fun.  But, spoiler alert, anyone?  I know that some people, like my husband, don't like spoilers, so I'll have to warn him not to read JHM today I guess.  Unless you post a (Spoilers Below! and Spoilers Done)...

  • Love Patton Oswalt!

  • I have to say, I've been just a bit worried as to whether or not Pixar might have finally hit a wall with this film. Not for any particular reason, mind you ... more what Jim said before. Would anyone really want to watch a film where the main character is a rat? I mean rats are normally relegated to "bad guy" status, right?

    But after reading this and after listening to Jim review the scene (the same Jim who is normally pretty tough on Pixar) and give it rave reviews, I'm actually getting really excited for this picture.

  • In short, Jim has discovered the most successful movie production company of the last decade does, in fact, know what it's doing. I love happy endings! And thanks for the nice article.

  • "...he most successful movie production company of the last decade..."

    Euh, that's highly debatable.. Since they don't release that many movies..

  • The trailer shown in theaters a few months ago was terrific. After seeing other animal-based CGI flicks (Ice Age, Over The Hedge), it was so clear to me, after seeing the trailer, just how and why Pixar blows its competition out of the water. The level of craft is simply unsurpassed. And now Jim's description of this fragment to be shown at the Con has me really excited for this film. It sounds like Ratatouille has a great story, and that's the part of any film I care the most about. Thanks for the info, Jim. No way I'd get to attend the Con (though someday, someday...)

  • Where's the title come from?

  • I am wondering if either Remy or the garbage boy washed their hands(or is it paws?) before they started on the soup.

  • To answer orljustin,

    Ratatouille is a French dish of stewed vegetables. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille_

    Since the film is about Rats and French cooking... well, you get it.

    It it took place in San Fransisco, they would've called it "Rats-a-Roni".

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice-A-Roni)

  • If you do get to Moscone Center, don't forget to take at least one ride on the old carousel from Playland at the Beach. The carousel turned 100 years old last April and is one of the most beautiful carousels in the country. OK so my relatives owned it for over 50 years thus I'm a bit prejudiced. It's on the upper level by the Zeum.

  • Now, this is one Pixar pic I acutally want to see. Why for? (Sorry Jim, I just had to use it) Patton Oswalt. As established in the Monday Mousewatch, I am a geek. I also happen to love other geeks in the popular culture spotlight. mc chris, the "Nerdcore" rapper who greatly helped Cartoon Network's [adult swim] programming block as the voice of a number of characters on a number of shows, is one of my favorite artists and Brian Posehn, the token slow-talking stand-up comic in glasses and comic book writer ("The Last Christmas") and Patton are two of my favoite stand-ups. Now I know Patton is on "The King of Queens," which I have not seen due to when I work at UPS (isn't it ironic...don't 'cha think?), but I mostly know him from his stand-up albums ("Feelin' Kinda Patton" is available on iTunes, go on, get it!) and a few times he was on The Adam Carolla Show (morning radio show). See, Adam had a little "Celebrity Nerd-Off" between Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and Dana Gould. Patton won and has since reappeared on the show to give, not kidding, updates on the Dungeons and Drangons campaigns he and his buddies play. If you've seen Reno 911! the television series, Patton was the D&D geek constantly in trouble with the law, trying to explain that his actions were legal according to the most recent D&D rules.

    Yeah, I am a huge geek (Goin' to San Diego Comic-Con this year to get my 'Comic-On'!), and I want to see Patton take on a children's movie, like how Larry the Cable Guy did in Cars.

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