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Remember how everyone was talking about Toy Story when it first came out? The incredible visuals, unique style, vividly imagined world? The next time people were talking that way with such enthusiasm about a computer animated movie was Finding Nemo. I'm excited to say that Ratatouille will be the next one to redefine the visual creativity and technical detail of computer animated movies. Honest to goodness, I was awestruck by the animation, and that never happens to me. It is a visual masterpiece of a movie if ever the term applies.
The next thing to talk about is the "genre" of the movie. As Pixar enthusiasts will tell you, Brad Bird, the director of Ratatouille, also directed The Incredibles, which has the most inspired and creative action sequences from any of the Pixar movies. Ratatouille, while not so straightforward with its action, has almost as much as The Incredibles did, in unique ways. Most memorable is the shotgun scene near the beginning. (You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it). Other than that, this is the expected comedy-with-heart movie from Pixar that so many have grown to love.
The voice acting? Spot on. Every voice is distinctive, and it never feels like a celebrity's voice tacked on to a character (Shrek, I'm looking at you), it feels like the characters themselves speaking. You can't ask for more from voice acting.
And finally, the script and the story. The entire irony of the story -- a street rat with a passion for fine food -- is beautiful, and a tight, smart, wonderful script flows from this. The pacing of the story is odd and choppy at places, but this is a very forgivable grievance. The only other minor fault is that a few of the dramatic one-liners feel a bit forced. Other than that, this is the most layered, complex, and satisfying script from Pixar since The Incredibles.
Overall, I recommend that everyone see this movie when it hits theaters (I was lucky enough to see a pre-release screening). Though not perfect, it is an animated masterpiece in true Pixar form with breathtaking animation and visual design.
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
The thing that separates this "stupid movie" from other, inferior "stupid movies" like Zoolander and Anchorman is that the movie never takes the stupidity seriously. This is realism of a sort: In general, incompetent fools do not excel in life, and they don't excel in here. The guy does not end up with the girl, the protagonists don't end up successful or particularly happy except in their friendship.
This gives the comedy so much more impact. If everyone and the world are believable, ridiculous antics really stick out. My favorite scene in this movie, for example, is Harry and Lloyd's interaction with a very serious, tough thug. The thug's realistically confused and shocked response to their pure idiocy makes the idiocy itself far more potent and gut-wrenchingly hilarious.
The plot, while not particularly deep, acts as a sort of clever satire on most comedy-adventures. As I said, the heroes actually end up any better off than they started, but their blissful ignorance makes it hard for you to feel sad for them.
There are two distinct reasons that this comedy stands the test of multiple views, though. One is the physical, comedic performances of Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey as Harry and Lloyd. So brilliantly over-the-top and obnoxious, you'll be laughing almost non-stop if you just pay attention to the way the two stars act. The other is how creatively stupid Harry and Lloyd are. It's clear someone of great intelligence wrote this "stupid" script; the jokes are clever and come at a nonstop pace.
There are the requisite bodily function jokes, but they don't really drag the movie down very much, as they are sparse and generally funny. Overall, I recommend this movie for all fans of comedy. And I question the wisdom and sanity of anyone who doesn't consider themselves a fan of comedy.