This Tuesday, Ratatouille (subtitled for the lawyers out there: “A Disney-Pixar Presentation of a Pixar Animation Studios Film”) comes to home video. Since the movie came out this summer, more press has been devoted to the performance of the film at the box office and how it reflected on the Disney-Pixar merger than was written about the movie itself. This is a shame, as the movie itself is fantastic. While it certainly received a lot of love from critical circles, a typically clueless performance from Disney’s PR machine contributed to the film never reaching the level of awareness it deserved; Remy wound up getting lost in the flood of other, more crudely conceived ‘funny talking animal’ films that have come out in recent years.
Thankfully, good word of mouth kept the film going at the box office and it is currently expected to break Pixar records overseas. The little film with a troubled development process found its audience and, as of this writing at least, is my favorite of Pixar’s films.
Sadly, the impending DVD release follows recent trends by presenting discs short on extras. Pixar discs used to be the gold standard in the early days of DVD; these “super genius” editions presented hours of background material on each film’s development process. Starting with Cars, however, Pixar DVDs have become mostly featureless affairs. A recent column on Jim Hill Media speculates on the reasons for this, and while two-disc premium priced ‘Special Editions’ of these titles may be coming out in two to three years, for now we’re stuck with the bare bones versions.
Thankfully, we’re not completely left out in the cold. The crown jewel of the DVD is the new 11 minute short “Your Friend the Rat”. The short, directed by Jim Capobianco, is not only the longest in Pixar history, but as can be seen in these stills is the first to incorporate traditional 2-D animation, live action, and stop-motion animation. The film features rat protangonists Remy and Emile as they indoctrinate viewers into the world of the rat so as to improve inter-species relationships. According to Sci Fi Wire, Capobianco cites the work of Ward Kimball as well as midcentury educational films as influences on the short.
In other Ratatouille news, director Brad Bird has spoken to Sci Fi Wire about his pleasure with the film’s performance and the benefits of viewing it in the home theater. He also tells Movieweb about the creative process behind the film, the quality of Blu Ray and digital film presentation, and hints about his future plans. Finally, Ultimate Disney reviews the disc itself and, while I disagree with most of their review, it does give a rundown of features and presentation. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should. It’s fantastic. And while you’re at it, buy the score!