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"Ratatoing": How Low Can You Go? A Lot Lower Than You Want to Know

by on November 18, 2007

You’ll see them in supermarkets and toy stores everywhere: the inexpensive DVDs that are clear ripoffs of whatever animated movie has just hit the theaters. You may have even wondered to yourself, “How bad can they really be?”

Unsurprisingly, the answer is “pretty damn bad.” With nothing better to do with $8.00, I decided to have a look at Ratatoing, which rips off Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille in the hope that an unusually stupid child will convince an unusually stupid parent that this movie will be just like the one in the theaters. Should this stupid child succeed, he or she will get their just desserts. Ratatoing will show you depths of suck that you would have never thought possible. If you ate a copy of the worst cartoon you can think of, you’d still probably crap something better than Ratatoing.

Marcell Toing is a rat who runs Ratatoing, the most popular rat restaurant in Rio de Janeiro. All the rats in the neighborhood want to know his secret, which, apparently, is that he steals fresh ingredients from the adjacent human restaurant. Some competitors try to ruin Ratatoing by convincing the human restaurant that it faces a rat infestation, and much mayhem ensues. Or it would have, if the story were any good.

The cat running is one of the most pathetic things I've ever seenWatching a movie like this can make you truly appreciate Pixar’s craft, even if you didn’t like Ratatouille very much. Ratatoing has absolutely no sense of pacing or comic timing, dragging everything out interminably without a laugh to be found anywhere. Assuming you can stay awake for the whole thing, you’ll be checking your watch every five minutes hoping it’ll be over soon. The movie takes 44 endless minutes when Pixar (or even DreamWorks or Sony) could have the whole thing far better as a 5-10 minute short.

The lack of flow applies to the animation as well, which is flat, dull, and not very well done. You can get better animation and CGI textures in just about any PlayStation 2 game. On The Incredibles‘ commentary track, Brad Bird noted that computers want to make everything smooth, clean, and shiny, and the makers of Ratatoing did nothing to counter this tendency. The rats seem like they’re carved out of hard plastic and are only marginally more expressive than the furniture around them.

Apparently, this movie was originally made in Brazil, but comes to American shores with a dubbed English and Spanish soundtrack, thus ensuring that lip sync doesn’t match either language. One gets the impression that half the script is just filler to try and match up with the mouth flaps, but I can’t imagine that anything being said in the original Portuguese could make this DVD any better.

The biggest tragedy of all is the senseless waste of raw materials it took to get this video to store shelves. The only other film I can compare this to is Larry Clark’s Kids: an astonishing waste of time, energy, and effort for all parties concerned with absolutely nothing to recommend it, and which will actually make you angry that you’ll never get the time and brain cells you wasted on it back.
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