January 23, 2013

Ratatoing (2007)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY RECENTLY RAN an article about the phenomenon of “mockbusters” – cheaply made knockoffs of blockbuster movies, released at the same time as the original film, to cash in on the buzz. Adding to the insult (and confusion) are their sound-alike titles, such as Age of the Hobbits, Braver, Paranormal Entity, Transmorphers, and American Battleship.

Last fall, FilmBoy discovered the mockbuster Chop Kick Panda, so I shared the EW article with him – and unknowingly created a monster. Fascinated by their alleged awfulness, he set out to watch as many animated mockbusters as possible. He then insisted I review mockbusters here, and I told him no way. But after much discussion and debate, I agreed to review one, and only one: the totally-not-Ratatouille flick Ratatoing.

Set in Rio de Janeiro (in place of Ratatouille’s Paris), Ratatoing tells the story of Marcell Toing, a mouse (not a rat) who’s chef and owner of his own restaurant – so in some twisted way, Marcell has already fulfilled the dream that Ratatouille’s Remy spends his entire film trying to accomplish. Anyhoo, Marcell and fellow mice Carol and Greg conduct weekly raids on human kitchens to get fresh ingredients for their entrees, while rival restaurant owners will stop at nothing to discover Marcell's secrets.

To say Ratatoing is an abomination would be an insult to all things disgusting or abhorrent. The most obvious offense is the atrocious animation. The entire film looks like unfinished footage from a Pixar behind-the-scenes featurette: flat, simple shapes with primary colors and stiff body movements that make everybody look like they’re doing the Robot.

Characters yell their dialogue at each other. Random scenes inexplicably fade to black. Attempts at humor are virtually non-existent. There’s zero character development. One animation sequence is used three times. It’s tempting to call this 45-minute “film” a train wreck, but with a real train wreck there’s at least a certain level of exhilaration. With Ratatoing, it’s just exasperation.

Ratatoing was originally voiced in Portuguese, which would explain the horrible sync-up of mouths with dialogue in this English version. The voiceover talent, including veterans Veronica Taylor (Pokemon: The First Movie), Lisa Ortiz, and Wayne Grayson, should be ashamed of their involvement. At least experienced voice actor Mike Pollock had the good sense to use an alias to hide his embarrassment.

Ratatoing is produced by Video Brinquedo, a Brazil-based company who specializes in super-cheap, poorly made imitations of popular movies, including titles such as Little Bee, Tiny Robots, Gladiformers, Little & Big Monsters, and my personal favorite, What’s UP: Balloon to the Rescue! They’re the movie equivalent of the rack toys you see at drugstores sporting borderline-lawsuit titles like Star Warriors and World Wrestling Rasslers.

Ratatoing plays like the worst kids show from 1991. Its sole reason for existence is the hope that some uninformed, astigmatic Grandma won’t tell it apart from Ratatouille and pick it up for her grandchild. It’s a perfect example of scraping the bottom of the barrel, then discovering something under the barrel.


Rating:

What did FilmBoy and Jack-Jack think?
FilmBoy enjoyed Ratatoing as a bad movie, much like he did with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. He laughed frequently at how unbelievably awful it is. And Jack-Jack? Halfway through the film, he declared, “Okay, this movie is giving me a headache.”

Is it suitable for your kids?
In terms of artistic merit, Ratatoing isn’t suitable for ANY kids. That being said, there’s some mild name-calling near the end by a bad-guy mouse, who spews off “chubby,” “stupid,” and “idiot” in one insult. Also, Carol sports a disturbingly curvy body for a mouse, complete with a bubbled booty and perky breasts.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Dear God, I hope not.

Make sure you wipe your feet on that glue trap on the way out.

Ratatoing
* Director: Kip Kaplan
* Screenwriter: Kip Kaplan
* Stars: Wayne Grayson, Lisa Ortiz, Veronica Taylor, Dan Green, Mike Pollock (as Herb Lawrence), Marc Diraison, Scottie Ray
* MPAA Rating: G


Rent Ratatoing from Netflix >>

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