Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ratatoullie -- A Jewish movie

It's time again for another LFordD movie review in our series of Jewish movies without overt Jewish content.

Today's pick is the new Disney/Pixar animated release, "Ratatoullie," which is not only about a treif restaurant, its hero is a rat! Not only that, the director/screenwriter is one Brad Bird, which belies the stereotypes about "Hollywood Jews." Nonetheless, I believe that this picture presents strong Jewish themes.

The basic storyline concerns Remy the Rat, who, unlike the rest of his clan, is sensitive to the tastes and odors of fine food. The other rats are happy enough eating just any old garbage. And while Remy's dad is grateful that Remy's talent allows him to be able to check for rat poison, he warns Remy not to have anything to do with humans, the mortal enemy of the rat. Naturally, Remy cannot resist, and before long is helping a clueless garbage boy produce haute cuisine. The whole movie is about Remy struggling to balance his rat identity and love for his family with his disgust at the rat culture (they steal yucky garbage) with his need to fraternize with humans, who are the only ones who can enable Remy to realize his personal dreams (as well as provide him with edible food, as normal rat chow makes him gag.)

If this isn't a metaphor for the Jewish experience during the last 200 years or so (with the rats standing in for the Jews and the humans for the goyim), then I'm a hareidi. In particular, the scene where Remy's dad is trying to convince his son that humans aren't to be trusted has such obvious Holocaust overtones that italmost embarrasses me to have to point it out. The ending, too, while cute and typically Hollywood hopeful, does not answer all the questions -- while Remy and his rat clan enjoy the friendship of some humans (and a certainly better lifestyle, or at least diet, than they had on their own, most humans still loathe and despise rats and would shut down any restaurant that dared allow a ratt prepare dinner -- even if the rat washed his hands before working with the food.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if there's a kernel of decent point here, the overall felling of the analogy is very offensive.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if there's a kernel of decent point here, the overall felling of the analogy is very offensive.


The rats actually come off as pretty sympathetic characters, certainly more so than most of the humans.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Woodrow said...

As someone who's had pet rats, I've always thought they are great pets for Jews. Here's why:

1. Totally kosher for Pesach: since they eat anything that humans eat, you can clean their cage for Pesach and feed them what you eat. Getting matzoh instead of the usual processed rat food is a real treat for them!

2. Like Jews, rats are
a) smart
b) survivors
c) plucky little underdogs constantly under assault by evil tyrants (and admittedly, lots of other people too)

3. Also shabbos friendly, since they usually like challah and wine

4. Can stay in a cage for days without freaking out, so if you are worried that they are mutzkah and don't want to play with them on shabbos and yom tov, they will understand.

5:26 PM  

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