WonderCon: Pixar's Ratatoullie Panel

"We were thinking about retitling it Ratatouille 1. And letting you guys know it's the prequel to the sequel."

Brad Bird began his presentation with slides showing the character development drawings and sculpts for Remy, the main rat character from Ratatoille. He also showed the early sculpts for Emile, his brother, the friendly gregarious rat that will eat anything  (voiced for Pete Soane). DJango (Brian Denahey) plays the father. Linguini, the hapless chef voiced by pixar artist Lou Ramono (who served as an art director on The Incredibles). He also voiced the uptight teacher in that film. He's a guy who has trouble holding on to jobs. He's a garbage boy who is thrust into the job of being a brilliant chef, "but really he isn't." The character is voiced by Peter O'Toole. His boss, Skinner is voiced by Ian Holms.

Remy is the brilliant cook, but he can't be in the kitchen because if word got out, the restaurant would die. And Remy can't let that happen because the death of the restaurant is also death to a rats who live off the garbage.

Bird explains that the movie begins with Remy and his family living in a farm. But when Remy exposes the family, they are chased out into the open, where he gets separated from the family and somehow ends up in Paris alone. He is near his favorite chef Gusto's restaurant. But his favorite chef is long since dead.  So Remy hangs around talking to an imaginary version of the guy he's seen on television (voiced by Brad Garett).

The first clip shows Remy talking to the imaginary Gusto as they watch the chefs cook in the kitchen. Remy notices the kid ruining the soup and decides to take action. He jumps down into the sink, runs along the floor, hides underneath the kitchen equipment where he almost gets burned to death. It's the fantastical chase sequence that goes around the entire kitchen. Remmy ends up narrowly escaping from an oven before crawling to safety onto a serving cart which goes into the main dining area. Finally back in the kitchen, Remy adds spices and ingredients to the soup in an attempt to fix the kid's mistake. He searches the kitchen and in an incredibly imaginative sequence, makes the soup complete. But just as he finishes, he is caught by the kid.

Bird explained what follows: At this moment Skinner catches Linguini with a soup ladle in his hand and goes ballistic. While this whole blow-up is happening, the soup is brought out a food critic, who ends up loving it.  He knows this guy is an idiot but at the same time sees he's doing something right. So he lets him do it.

This is where the next clip begins.  Skinner catches a glimpse of Remy while lecturing Linguini. Caught in a bottle, Linguini is given the job of disposing of Remy in the river. But Linguini can't get the nerves to throw him in. Linguini starts talking to Remy, who nods and gestures back. Linguini comes up with a plan for Remy to cook for him, so that he wont lose his job. And with that he lets Remy free. But Remy runs away. Looking back he sees the depressed kid sulking, and decides to go back. So much emotion is displayed as this new bond is formed.

Other highlights from the panel include:

Randy Newman is not doing the Ratatouille score. Instead the guy who did the music for The Incredibles is doing it.

When asked if John Ratzenberger would be included in the movie, Brad jokingly asked the audience  if they should include him. He explained to the audience that Ratzenberger has been in every successful Pixar movie so far.

Bird said he wrote a whole new script from the basic story. He came aboard the project when most of the sets were already built. "It's a spontaneous movie, and if I had more time, maybe it wouldn't have felt like that."

Jaun who won an oscar for Geri's Game was the one who came up with the idea.

Well actually my next project will probably be live action. That said there is a tendency for people who succeed in animation to leave. I'm not that type of guy, I love animation." Bird also expressed his love for all kinds of animation, 2D and 3D.

They actually did a test for Toy Story and put it in 3D IMAX. The problem with that is, I think John Lasseter believes there has to be a reason for that. Especially with IMAX, composition and cuts that would be good for a normal screen can be jarring on a giant screen. You really have to recompose a movie for IMAX. We've looked at it, and we're just hoping and waiting for the technology to get a little better. I've seen some 3D that is really amazing. I wouldn't rule it out, but I don't feel the time is right to go 3D. So someday, probably.

Read Brad's comments on The Incredibles 2 in our other posting.

With this film his strategy is to stay with Remy on the floor and to remain with Remy from his point of view.

Brad admitted that Pixar's development model is changing. Right now they are developing 5 or 6 movies at the same time. Some of them are still in the early "What if" stages while others have finished story reels.

Brad voices a very weasely wimpy guy who is in the movie for two seconds.

They ended the panel by introducing the domestic trailer which basically shows a very tightly edited version of the two sequences described above. Then it shows the comedy that evolves from Remy playing puppet master underneath Linguini's chef hat. The clip ends with Remy waving to a guy bicycling on the street, who becomes distracted and crashes into a parked car. I'm sure the trailer will debut online next week.

In conclusion, the footage impressed me more than I ever expected it to. That characters are well developed, and Pixar has another hit on their hands. But the question is: Will kids be able to pronounce the title?