Archive for the ‘Ratatouille’ Category

Disney Detours – Budgeting Disney, Part 1 ½: Another Disney Deal

April 4, 2009

Another value has been announced for future Walt Disney World guests.

By Blake

Originally posted April 3, 2009. Updated July 28, 2009.

I posted last week about some of the promotions Disney has been offering their guests that really make vacationing a whole lot easier on families’ wallets. Now they’ve announced yet another great value that was originally just for Disney Visa Cardholders but has not been extended to include all guests, even if you don’t own a Disney Visa Card.

The Free Dining Plan package includes a 5 nights at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, 6 days of Walt Disney World park tickets, and lastly included for free is the Basic Disney Dining Plan. This includes 1 table-service meal, 1 counter-service meal, and 1 snack per person, per night of your vacation. Exact monetary amounts for the entire vacation will vary based on the amount of people in your family and the ages of those people, but you can check for prices here.

The Basic Disney Dining Plan consists of 1 table-service meal, 1 counter-service meal, and 1 snack per person, per night of your vacation. One of Walt Disney World’s table-service restaurants is Le Chefs de France at Epcot. In this picture, chef Paul Bocuse is shown with his grandson and Remy from Ratatouille. Diners at Le Chefs de France can meet Remy during lunch at the restaurant through September 5.

The dates pertaining to this package are August 16, 2009 – October 3, 2009. So in order for guests to have the free Dining Plan, they must vacation during that time.

***Update from July 28, 2009: Disney is now having ANOTHER great dining deal. Guests that book a 5 day/5 night stay at Walt Disney World that are visiting from October 2 through November 24, 2009, or November 29 through December 17, 2009, get select dining free if they book their trip by September 26, 2009. (Note: You may have heard that this deal was only for guests with a Disney Rewards Visa card, though that is not the case anymore!)

All in all it’s a pretty great deal, and one that I’m sure many people are glad that Disney is implementing again.

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By Blake; posted April 3, 2009; updated July 28, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Talk – Oscar Recap 2008

March 2, 2008

Image © Disney.

This year’s Academy-Awards have come and gone with ten Disney nominations and one win.

By Blake

Originally posted March 2, 2008.

2007 certainly was a prosperous year for Disney movies, particularly three of them which garnered special success. Ratatouille proved that some Disney films could have a surprisingly large adult fan base. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End capped off its very popular trilogy proving that Disney could have a solid franchise that stood up among the ranks of Harry Potter. Lastly, Enchanted cranked out some of the best new Disney music in years. All three of these spectacular films came to the attention of the Academy, collectively receiving ten nominations for the 80th Annual Academy-Awards, which were held last Sunday, February 24, 2008.

First, let’s talk about Ratatouille. It was nominated for Best Animated Film, Best Original Score, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Original Screenplay. Thankfully, it did win Best Animated Film. Unfortunately, Ratatouille lost its other four nominations. Juno won Original Screenplay, Atonement won Original Score, and I still don’t know the difference between Achievement in Sound Mixing and Achievement in Sound Editing. However, the same film, The Bourne Ultimatum, won both awards.

Ratatouille won Best Animated Film and was nominated for Best Original Score, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Original Screenplay. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Next up is Pirates. It was nominated for Achievement in Makeup and Achievement in Visual Effects. Well, it lost Makeup to La Vie En Rose. However, I was 99.9% sure Pirates would win for Visual Effects . . . but it didn’t. Instead, The Golden Compass took home the award. Although I haven’t seen The Golden Compass, it must have had some pretty nifty effects to beat out Pirates’ maelstrom sequence.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was nominated for Achievement in Makeup and Achievement in Visual Effects. Image © Disney.

Lastly, we come to Enchanted. Three of its songs (“Happy Working Song,” “That’s How You Know,” and “So Close”), written by acclaimed Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, were all nominated for Best Song. All five songs in the Best Song category were performed throughout the show, and all three of Enchanted’s songs had excellent performances. “Happy Working Song” was sung by Amy Adams, who plays Giselle in the film, and was spot-on and in character 100%.

Three songs from Enchanted were nominated for Best Song. Image © Disney.

“That’s How You Know” (which was introduced by Miley Cyrus) was performed by Kristin Chenoweth, which kind of confused me because Chenoweth isn’t even in the film. As it turns out, Amy Adams apparently only wanted to perform one song, so a substitute was used for “That’s How You Know.” Chenoweth did the song justice and the performance (featuring a packed stage full of brides, grooms, construction workers, and senior citizens) was quite spectacular. (Although, if there had to be a switch of performers, I’m glad it was in “That’s How You Know” . . . anybody other than Amy Adams singing “Happy Working Song” might have sounded out of character.)

The last of Enchanted’s nominated songs, “So Close,” was introduced by Patrick Dempsey, who plays Robert in the film, and was sung by Jon McLaughlin, who sings the song in the film. The performance was done in true Disney fashion, reenacting the ballroom scene from the film quite nicely, complete with a “Hidden Mickey” and performers portraying the film’s four main characters (proof that Enchanted characters COULD work out for appearances in the parks!).

The moment soon arrived to reveal the winner for Best Song. Who won? “Falling Slowly” from Once, which was performed on an acoustic guitar and a piano. The song’s writers, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, did seem very deserving in their acceptance speech, telling that they only had had $100,000 to make the movie and had come through a long journey to get where they were. So, yes, I felt happy for the winners but still disappointed that Enchanted didn’t win.

However, even though Enchanted didn’t win, its nominations prove several very important points. First, Disney music is alive and well again. I mean, think about it. The music featured in Enchanted could go on to become signature Disney classics. (If this keeps up, we can possibly hope to see a few performances from High School Musical 3 at next year’s Oscars.) Second, the performances prove that Enchanted is definitely fit for the stage. Whether it be on Broadway or somewhere in the Disney parks, the film would work out wonderfully in a lavish stage production. (Hey, isn’t old theatre in DHS’s Streets of America being refurbished as you read this?)

So, although only one out of its ten nominations won, this year’s Oscars certainly had Disney representation all throughout its ceremony. I admit I am a bit surprised at Pirates’ losses, though I’m glad Ratatouille won Best Animated Film. And then there’s Enchanted. Even though the film didn’t bring home any wins, if the Disney execs had their heads screwed on right as they viewed last week’s Oscars, they’ll realize that Enchanted would definitely work in a stage production someway.

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By Blake; posted March 2, 2008. All images © Disney. Ratatouille image © Disney/Pixar.

DVD Review – Ratatouille

November 11, 2007

Pixar’s latest feature is an elaborately spectacular concoction, though the DVD’s lack of supplemental material questions its worthiness.

By Blake
Originally posted November 10, 2007.

When moviegoers think of animated motion pictures, children often come to mind because animated films are generally aimed to please a younger audience. Not often does one come across a blend of story, characters, and artistic wonder that actually appeals more to adults than it does youngsters. Though, Ratatouille does just that. The film itself is clever and spectacular, but the bonus material in its new DVD release certainly has some plenty of elbow room in its disc space.

In Ratatouille, Remy, an aspiring chef who just so happens to be a rat, is separated from his family and winds up in Paris at the home of his most admired restaurant, Gusteau’s. When Remy eventually puts some pizazz in a soup that a food critic loves, a custodian, Linguini, is mistaken for making the soup and is demanded to repeat his performance to please customers. This results in Remy and Linguini forming a humorous bond, Remy concealing himself in Linguini’s hat and directing Linguini how to cook everything.
The movie shines story-wise, scattered with multiple overlaying plots without getting overwhelming to comprehend. The characters are well developed and nurtured to, each with their own background story and distinct personalities that cleverly clash with each other. The animation is visually stunning: viewers feel everything they see and fully embrace the entire setting. You can actually feel Remy’s fluffiness, taste the beauty of each food dish, and sense the textures of the “architecture”, in a manner of speaking.

And, of course, there are the hidden Pixar references to search for, such as the appearance of the Pizza Planet truck and, as always, the voice of John Ratzenberger behind a character. If you look closely, you’ll also spot Luigi from Cars several times, as well.
While the bonus features somewhat satisfy for the time being, they are far from exceptional, and definitely leave viewers hungry for more.
Lifted (about 5 minutes) – An Academy-Award-nominated Pixar short, this entertaining silent, set-to-music segment features an alien attempting to pass an exam testing his ability to correctly abduct a human.

Your Friend the Rat (about 11 minutes) – Pixar’s longest short ever, this exclusive-to-DVD feature doesn’t fully extend the movie like Pixar’s epilogue shorts have done in the past, but instead includes Remy and Emile presenting a history of rats to viewers. It is almost entirely presented in 2D animation, save the brief areas featuring Remy and Emile. Although it certainly is different from what we’re used to seeing from Pixar, that doesn’t mean it lacks the same Pixar charm. Its humor and references to popular culture plus the hilarious-yet-mandatory disclaimer at the end make it one of the definite high points of the disc.
Fine Food & Film (about 14 minutes) – This feature includes interviews and behind-the-scenes footage dealing with two separate worlds that were combined to create Ratatouille: filmmaking and food. It includes interviews and biographical info about Ratatouille director Brad Bird and acclaimed chef Thomas Keller. It is a not-so-much interesting addition to the disc, and really deals more with the lives of its two interviewees than the actual creation of Ratatouille.
Deleted Scenes (about 15 minutes) – The only real feature on the entire disc having anything to do with the making of the film itself, the three deleted scenes are presented here in animated sketch drawings with introductions for each by either director Brad Bird or producer Brad Lewis (depending on which scene you’re viewing). One scene deals with the viewers’ first introduction to Gusteau’s restaurant; one features Remy accidentally slipping into Skinner’s hat instead of Linguini’s; and the last features an alternate version of Remy and Linguini’s first day working at Gusteau’s. The scenes were eventually dropped due to perspective issues, as well as tenderness to the length of the film.
Interestingly, unlike virtually all Disney DVD releases, Ratatouille does not offer a separate menu to select previews from, and instead the previews are only played preceding the main menu. No real big news is revealed in the commercials, however, other than the premiere trailers for 101 Dalmatians Platinum Edition and Snow Buddies, both of which have already previously been announced by Disney.
The menus throughout the disc feature portions of the animation used in the end credits and are easy to navigate using an underlined squiggle to highlight your selection on screen.
Wrapping It Up
Overall, Ratatouille is an exceptionally well-crafted film that combines story and art to create a fantastic end result. What would ordinarily be an obvious buy isn’t so obvious, though. The lack of bonus features depreciates its value and makes us wonder if sometime soon it will be re-released with more bonuses. The new short film and deleted scenes are among the disc highlights and for the time being will serve satisfactory. However, somewhere along the road, the film should certainly be upgraded to special 2-disc treatment like past Pixar features and given the proper praise it deserves.
How do I rank the Ratatouille DVD?
Very good movie + Good bonus features = (Bolded is my choice.):
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Ratatouille DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8) – Older Kids (ages 9-10) – Young Adults – Adults – Older Folks

By Blake; originally posted November 10, 2007. All images (C) Disney/Pixar.