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Label: Walt Disney Music / Pixar
IN A NUTSHELL: For all that fun, Giacchino doesn’t mess around when it comes to the emotions of the film. It’s a warm-hearted story and as it comes to a close, Giacchino hits every note, musical and emotional, with perfection. Book-end the score with a swirling salon song with beautiful lyrics (for those who can follow along in French) and an unforgettable credits montage suite (“End Creditouilles”) and you’ve got one of the best scores of the year, both in the film and as a standalone work.
There's something kind of rotten at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A few years ago the Academy created an entirely separate category for animated features. Perhaps they did it to alleviate an outcry from the industry and movie-goers that animated movies were getting passed over. That, of course, is ridiculous. When you consider the small percentage of animated films out there, and among those the small percentage that are even remotely worthy for a best picture nomination, it's not surprising how rare an occasion it was to see an animated film make the list. Animated features didn't need their own category. They just needed to raise the bar.
Pixar has been doing that for nearly a decade now and with their latest offering, Ratatouille, they crafted a story that deserved a best picture nomination just as much as Beauty and the Beast did back in 1991. Unfortunately, that couldn't happen because it was shafted off into a category where its only competition was a French avant garde piece no American theater would touch until it got an Oscar nomination and a dull piece of ridiculous eye candy about surfing penguins.
The competition for best picture this year is pretty stiff, but when I look at the list I can easily spot one that could easily have been ignored in favor of Ratatouille I won't say what it is, but it starts with an M and rhymes with Nichael Clayton. But, I digress from my topic before I even get to it. A big part of what makes Ratatouille an all around great film is its amazing soundtrack. Carefully and joyfully crafted by Michael Giacchino, the score did receive an Oscar nomination and, in my opinion, deserves the win without question.
Giacchino pulls out all the stops to create music for a world where anyone can cook, even a rat. Being a film set in Paris, Giacchino puts in plenty of nods to traditional French instrumentation, including the inevitable accordion. But the palette of musical instruments added into the mix is unorthodox and nothing short of brilliant. Guitar, jazz piano, flute harmonica, ukulele and even the human whistle get their own melodies and solo moments, matching perfectly the mood being set by the action on screen.
The wide range of styles that Giacchino plays with also adds to the score’s lush listening experience. Again, the traditional musical stylings make their appearances, but he wanders around into wider realms like Hawaiian and jazz (“Remy Drives A Linguini”), dancing briefly with hints of Salsa and Tango (“Colette Shows Him The Ropes”). If my ears don’t deceive me, there are even nods to classic French composers Berlioz and Debussy. Whether those appear subconsciously (either mine or Giacchino’s) it’s still an indication of how rich the score is.
Not just rich, but fun. Reading the title list is amusing unto itself. Some composers are content to name their cues with mundane references to the action in the film, like “Bill Takes A Walk” or “The Army Arrives”. Not Giacchino. He’s always had a flair for unique titles and with cues like “Granny Get Your Gun”, “Heist To See You”, “Kiss & Vinegar” and “End Creditouilles”, Ratatouille doesn’t disappoint.
For all that fun, Giacchino doesn’t mess around when it comes to the emotions of the film. It’s a warm-hearted story and as it comes to a close, Giacchino hits every note, musical and emotional, with perfection. Book-end the score with a swirling salon song with beautiful lyrics (for those who can follow along in French) and an unforgettable credits montage suite (“End Creditouilles”) and you’ve got one of the best scores of the year, both in the film and as a standalone work.
REVIEWER’S FAVORITE TRACK: “Anyone Can Cook” - there’s plenty of entertaining music in this score, but Giacchino’s personal style shines through in this quiet, moving piece.
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