I knew that an old guy flies away with his house using hundreds of balloons, along with a boy scout stowaway, and that’s all I knew. If I’d have realized there would be a giant comic bird and a pack of talking dogs I might’ve been less anxious to watch this – but shit, it’s Pixar and they can do no wrong, so we ended up loving it.

Features a montage of a happy couple from childhood to marriage to her death many years later – the saddest thing I’ve seen in ages, used to give us insight into our seemingly cranky protagonist… a boy with an absentee father… a childhood hero turning out to be unworthy (actually a murderous egomaniac, an Incredibles-reminiscent supervillain). It’s a very adult cartoon.

Also a fun short about storks and clouds, Partly Cloudy, directed by animator Peter Sohn (who also did a voice in Ratatouille).

Just spectacular… I loved every moment of it. The politics/message are a little heavy, but it was nervy to put such anti-consumerist, green, call-to-action messages into a non-talking robot-love movie in the first place (and to declare in interviews, as Stanton has, there there are no political messages in the film!), so I’m going to forgive. Twenty years ago, Pixar would’ve been shot down as commies for making this movie (and Mike Judge would’ve been quietly executed for Idiocracy). Hopefully I’m going to see this again soon, so no need to go into plot summary.

I caught the bunch of 2001: A Space Odyssey references (evil autopilot is very HAL, some of the same music is used) but I also found myself thinking of Children of Men. Future Earth is void of new life, new life is then discovered in the belly of a female-ish character, everyone freaks out and gets excited but a bunch of sinister characters want to manipulate the situation. It all checks out. Movie is also getting compared to Alien (sigourney weaver’s voice is the “mother” ship) and Silent Running (another post-earth outer-space plant-tending movie), but not Sunshine.

Peter Gabriel, who has a history of song contributions to films about sentient critters (Gremlins, Babe 2) scores the closing credits with an obvious-sounding number about being down in the ground.

Fred “Wha’happen” Willard plays a president stand-in, the CEO of Buy ‘n’ Large. He’s not even animated – just videos of Fred Willard. If he’s the first live actor in a Pixar animation, they picked the right actor.

The opening short was Presto by first-time writer/director but long-time Pixar animator/artist Doug Sweetland. Very good, funny, fast-paced comic short about a magician and his magic hats and rebellious hungry rabbit. More of that Looney Tunes gag-based anything-goes character humor than the usual style of Pixar short (think Geri’s Game, Boundin’).

“You’re a bit thin for someone who likes food.”
“I don’t like food; I love it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow it.”

Another top-notch excellent film from Brad Bird and Pixar.

Some gripping action sequences, like when our hero first ventures into the restaurant and hops from cart to cart to floor to table. Perfect image, not as consciously stylized as The Incredibles of course. Great story + characters, satisfactory ending. What more could a rat desire?

I liked the miniature, fat imaginary chef that would appear to Remy and lead him places… but of course the power was within Remy all along, making the chef a sort of Yoda to Remy’s Luke.

“100% Genuine Animation! No motion capture or any other performance shortcuts were used in the production of this film.”

Lifted – came in late and missed it, but it’s supposed to screen in front of Ratatouille so I’ll get another chance.

The Danish Poet – saw the end, didn’t look impressive, but cute maybe.

Maestro – cool, the inner workings of a cuckoo clock (that being the twist ending) with the camera moving around the room in increments like a second hand. Landmark liked it so much they played it twice in a row (or that’s because their heads are up their asses as usual).

The Little Matchgirl – too smooth looking, too disney looking, and too many credited animators. Unfairly sad little thing.

No Time For Nuts – an Ice Age short, also unfair. More importantly, not especially good/funny, not half as good as the Madagascar penguin short. Prehistoric squirrel-thing finds a time machine and it teleports him and his sole acorn all over, ending in the future with a fake oak tree. Poor guy.

A Gentleman’s Duel – 3D short with people, never a good idea but this one looked quite good. Uptight brit and uptight frenchie duel in battletech suits over pretty girl who ends up getting nekked with her butler/servant/whatever. Has its moments.

Guide Dog – only crossover with The Animation Show and my favorite of this bunch. Too bad, the Oscars could learn a lot from Judge and Hertzfeldt.

One Rat Short – brown rat follows cheetos bag into rat lab run by red-eyed robot where he falls for white rat. Cheetos bag causes chaos and the gates are all opened, brown rat escapes but white rat is left behind. SAD MOVIE.

The Passenger – kid is scared of dog, sits on bus next to fish in plastic bag that turns into hideous huge creature when he turns on his walkman. Funny, cool little piece.

Wraith of Cobble Hill – ugh, brooklyn kid with drunk mom drinks cough syrup with his friends, gets key to shop while owner is “out of town”, finally “saves” owner’s dog from rat-infested store. Claymation whatever.

Jan 2010:
Watched again on DVD with Katy, who enjoyed it but kept commenting how obvious everything was – same thing I said when I first saw it. It’s still a nice movie, but watching a widescreen DVD on our square TV (similar problem as with Standard Operating Procedure) you lose all the detailed CG-animation magic that was added when sitting in front at the movie theater – so, all the story problems without the razzle-dazzle that made me overlook them last time.

all I wrote 7/16/2006 was:
Couldn’t help thinking of the Doc Hollywood comparisons I’d read before seeing this. Fun movie, looked great. More obvious than other Pixar movies. Nice enough preview for Ratatouille, our Next Great Hope. Patton Oswalt is in it!