At WonderCon San Francisco this past weekend, Disney/Pixar showed a clip from their eighth feature film to be released June 29: Ratatouille. Directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles), it is as different from Cars as Cars was from The Incredibles. Bird suggested that they rename it “Ratatouille 1: the Prequel to the Sequel,” so the audience would feel more comfortable in a summer season rife with ordinals like Spider-Man 3, “Harry Potter 5,” “Pirates of the Caribbean 3,” “Shrek 3,” “Fantastic Four 2” and “Die Hard 4”.
Ratatouille focuses on the life of Remy the rat (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who, unlike his rat brethren, likes the taste of fine food and aspires to be a cook. His hero, deceased French cook Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett), becomes his alter ego, speaking to him as a sprightly apparition who gives him advice and urges him forward in his dream.
Conceived by Jan Pinkava, who directed Oscar-winning short film Geri’s Game (1997), the original concept was the dichotomy that a rat is death to a restaurant and a restaurant is death to a rat. Bird rewrote the script, but maintained that original premise. He arrived late on the project but points out that the “joy of it was I didn’t get to over think anything. I had to work quickly so I think I worked intuitively and just went ‘Well, what the hell!’ and it seems to have turned out all right. It feels like a very spontaneous movie.”
The clip shown at WonderCon finds Remy on the roof of Gusteau’s restaurant in Paris looking into the kitchen from a skylight. The garbage boy, Linguini (Lou Romano), has knocked over a pot of soup and is desperately trying to fix it. Aghast at Linguini’s uneducated attempt, Remy falls through the skylight and into the kitchen. As he runs to the window to escape he gets a whiff of the fouled soup and can’t resist adding a little spice here, some other ingredient there. He’s eventually caught by Linguini who is subsequently assumed to have concocted this great new soup. The key to the story then becomes the relationship between Linguini and Remy as they learn to work together as a chef while keeping Remy concealed.
Bird strongly hinted that, in Pixar tradition, John Ratzenberger will voice a character, but would say no more. Guess we’ll have to wait until June to find out!