I try to pay attention when I see Pixar films. It’s impossible, of course, because they always manage to nab me, suck me right out of the analytical part of my head and throw me down the rabbit hole of sheer story and heart. Here I am halfway through the film, thoroughly enjoying the ride, but thus far, have managed to keep my emotions about me, not identifying with Remy, the rat who wants to be a chef, and suddenly–I don’t even know where it happened–I am inside the film, or the film is inside me, and when the climactic moment appears, I have to stifle the sob that will no doubt embarrass my children if it comes out.
How do they do this?
I guess Brian Bird of The Incredibles fame just understands something of human nature that I don’t quite grasp. As beautiful as these Pixar creations are visually, it’s always the story that kills me. It’s that old hero driven thing: a character wanting something, pushing back and forth against that bad old universe that seems to have nothing to do except throw obstacles at folks. Remy has a simple idea, an idea that any of us can relate to. He wants to do something he probably shouldn’t, or probably can’t–that is, if he listens to everyone around him. Remy’s well-meaning friends and family understand the plain and simple truth that rats eat garbage, do not have discriminating palates, and cannot–of course–cook, much less with refinement and elegance.
But that is just what Remy wants.
How he gets there (I will never understand the logic of a human being controlled by a rat pulling his hair like a puppet master pulling the strings of a marionette, nor will ever understand why I so willingly buy it) is a ride of sheer joy and delight. I seldom laugh out loud in a film, and yet here I was guffawing and rolling back and forth in my seat at the sheer genius of the comic mayhem.
Then, in the quiet of afterwards, I think about storytelling, and the power of dreams one more time. What a simple thing…to want what no one believes you can have, to dream of doing what no one says you can do…it is universal, it is heart-breaking, it is who we are.
I loved it…