We saw Ratatouille tonight, and it did not disappoint. D didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did, because--in her words--"It's a rat!" Which I found amusing, because she and the protagonist rodent both enjoy heightened olfactory senses. She can often identify the ingredients in a dish by taste, and she can distinguish Coca-Cola from Pepsi by smell. I'm not even kidding here.
Anyway, Brad Bird is becoming one of my favorite writer/directors (as the French might say, an auteur). I didn't think The Iron Giant was all that great, but that was based on Ted Hughes' book anyway; The Incredibles and Ratatouille are masterpieces. Granted, both of those films were produced by the Disney/Pixar juggernaut, but that dedication to story and character is sorely lacking in most movies.
I wonder how (and what) Bird might do at another studio. The sad truth is, animated features still exist in a Hollywood ghetto, even though live-action films are using more and more computer animated visual effects. Consider: there were only one or two physical robot models built for Transformers, the horribly unnecessary Underdog is the demon spawn of Babe's talking animals, and just about everything in the last three Star Wars movies was (wait for it) animated. Except for the acting. (Zing!)
On that note, I also enjoyed the retro logo at the end of Ratatouille's credits proclaiming that the movie was made using "100% Genuine Animation! No motion capture or any other performance shortcuts were used in the production of this film." That's how it should be. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Robert "cast of Tron doing bad Shakespeare" Zemeckis! I'm talking to you!