Brad Bird Gets a Golden Tomato

The Ratatouille director talks with RT.

Brad BirdIt's no secret that Ratatouille has been hailed by critics and movie-goers alike as one of the top movies of 2007. Writer/director Brad Bird, who took on the same duties for The Incredibles, tackled the familiar, yet ever-daunting task of trying to continue Pixar's seemingly infallible Certified Fresh winning streak.

Bird managed to outdo his previous critically acclaimed animated effort and Ratatouille has been crowned RT's Golden Tomato Award winner for Best Reviewed Film (Wide Release) of 2007.

On the heels of the film's five Academy Award nominations, Bird took some time out to speak with RT about the film, critics, modern animation, and his most recent mantle-worthy achievement -- The Golden Tomato Award.

You must be having a great morning.

Brad Bird: Yeah, fine morning!

5 Oscar nominations, not too shabby.

BB: Yeah, couldn't be happier!

However, we're here to talk about the Golden Tomatoes Awards at Rotten Tomatoes.

BB: Well, the Oscars pale [in comparison]. Actually, it's very gratifying because it has to with an overall acceptance of the film. [Rotten Tomatoes'] a wonderful site to go to and get the vibe on things. It's wonderful that it got this recognition. So it's very appreciated from everyone who worked on Ratatouille.

Ratatouille

The difference between the two awards is that Ratatouille was a favorite of the critical community.

BB: Oh yeah, here's a film where a lot of people were worried that critics would misunderstand it and think that the critic was a "bad guy." He actually ends up being an enlightened character. I think that some people were concerned that critics would take it the wrong way and think that it was anti-critic. It really isn't.

It's about staying connected to what you love. The critic who becomes a critic because he is connected with what he loves, sort of loses his way a little bit and finds his way back from the most unexpected source that could ever bring him back. He has to review his own life and his place in it. Critics, most of them, got it in the spirit that it was meant and that was very gratifying.

When you first saw some of these reviews start trickling in, were you sitting around nervously checking the site to see what happened?

BB: We weren't sitting around because the film was opening in France and all over the world. It didn't open on the same day and it was kind of rolling out.

Ratatouille

Probably wrong choice of words to say "sitting around."

BB: Yeah, it's more looking at it when we had a moment or getting an email saying, "It's at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!" I knew that those moments were numbered. The minute somebody said that, I went well, "Okay, here it comes..."

"Grab a screenshot, quickly!!"

BB: Yeah! It's a wonderful site and it was a great pleasure to get that award.

Comments

jpotter

John Potter

for me, i think 'ratatouille' beats 'no country,' 'juno,' and 'sweeney todd' for best of the year. which i'm kind of surprised at, but i love the movie. of course, i haven't seen 'there will be blood' yet, so maybe i should hold my tongue.

Jan 25 - 08:37 AM

minderbinder

anonymous anonymous

Nice to see it get this recognition.

I haven't seen most of the nominated films yet, but Ratatouille was the best 2007 film I've seen so far.

Jan 25 - 09:04 AM

dahluzz

joe shmo

congrats brad. it's a crime ratatouille had to decide between the animated feature and potentially the best picture categories. Clearly it's one of the year's best films and animated movies in general should be treated with as much resppect as their live-action counterparts.

The academy really needs to alter its submission requirements so that a film does not have to automatically relinquish a shot at best picture in order to qualify for the more easily attainable animated feature nod. While the category was created with the best intentions, it currently treats animated fare as less worthy.

the fact that ratouille is up for original screenplay underscores bird's prioritization of story above all else and solidifies it as one of the year's top narratives. Considering it's one of the most accomplished movies of the year in terms of writing, technological innovation and audience satisfaction (not to mention box office receipts), Ratatouille should be able to compete with the big boys.

Maybe the best way to combine the various animation media is to go within a character's imagination. that way, it's expected that the style would change throughout the course of the film. maybe a re-imagining of the maze and the minataur or something, but set within the confines of a brain. i dunno, but if anyone can figure it out it's the bird.

Jan 25 - 09:21 AM

michaelwalker

michael walker

A Crime? A bit overstated I must say

Jan 25 - 02:08 PM

VECTRESS

Stacy Mendez

brad bird is a genious, i say take that warner bros!

Jan 28 - 07:32 PM

nate2709

Nate 2709

Nice work Mr.Bird, you da man! Ratatouille is Fantastic!

Jan 25 - 09:40 AM

vic40186

victor lopez

Ratatouille is a masterpiece, I bought it the day it was released on DVD and I've watched it like 5 times more since then.

Jan 25 - 09:52 AM

kungfu_sage

Ian Turner

I must say, I absolutely loved ratatouille, but the Incredibles is still my favorite Pixar film.

Jan 25 - 10:25 AM

rt_hire_me

Teague Bates

Interesting what he says about time constraints. I assumed the Pixar pictures do so well because they take a lot of time to craft it just so, and that so many other films flop not because the makers aren't necessarily incompetent but because tight deadlines prevent creative people from taking the time they need to complete their vision. I never pictured the Pixar team racing against the clock and making compromises, but I guess we all do. I still wonder how Pixar can get it right so consistently where other filmakers seem content to spend zillions and spew undigested cactus vomit.

Jan 25 - 10:38 AM

Bob*

bob askins

He doesn't deserve that price or any other price. He is not the REAL director of the movie.He just finished that work because the Pixar sorority stole that project from Jan Pinkava.

Jan 25 - 12:37 PM

sonnyliew

sonny liew

I was curious about Jan Pinkava's replacement by Bird on the story. Did some searching on the net, and it seems Pinkava's refusing to answer questions about it and has since left Pixar; beyond that no one seems to know much beyond vague talk about story problems.

Does anyone know what happened? Personally I'm curious to know what Pinkava's story was like - The final version of the movie was alright, but no great shakes - would Pinkava's version have been less commercial? less coherent? more intellectual?

Would be interesting to hear the story behind it all :)

Jan 25 - 03:15 PM

Helmkat

Thomas Helmka

Congrats! Honestly though this was not my favorite Pixar, in fact its at the very bottom. I understand all the metaphors etc. -but- all I saw was a Rat in the Kitchen.

Jan 25 - 12:51 PM

pianochess

Linda Monday

I sooooooo agree. I hated it. My four kids hated it. My seven year old daughter just asked what I was doing. I told her and she said "It sucks out Loud!!" This movie was animated. The critics and some adults may have loved it, but not the kids. They thought it was the worst movie they saw this year. Who are you trying to please critics or your audience? That's always Hollywood's problem. The movies they think are great and important flop, because people don't want to spend that much money (for my family it's roughly a hundred dollars) to walk out feeling crappy. This one did well because of Pixar's reputation alone.

Jan 26 - 06:16 AM

Chris Lang

Chris Lang

The fact that your daughter proclaims at age 7 that something "sucks" speaks volumes to their upbringing. I'm sure they loved mindless dreck like Shrek 2 and Flushed Away, too. Congrats.

Jan 26 - 02:18 PM

pianochess

Linda Monday

Unfortunatly My daughter attends school. If you have children you know they pick up things from ohter children. As for Shrek 2 , 3 and Flushed Away, She wasn't allowed to see them. YOu, howver, classicly avoided the issue witha very basic deflection of the topic.

Jan 27 - 04:12 PM

bijio

biji badness

shut up. how can you say something like that about somebodies kids that you've NEVER ***ING MET. flame on, champ

Jan 27 - 04:17 PM

CoUcH ToMaToE DoUgIe

Shawn Amoroso

kudos to you chris lang, its a nice to see someone as deluded and

ignorant as pianochess and his children be Put in their rightful place!! i

mean, seriously pianochess if your kids nor you can't see how wonderful this

film was then you should only see crap like shrek 3 or how about shark tale

or some other piece of crap maybe that would be more suiting. OH and

Simpsonslover, i didn't forget you, ummm you actually thought the simpsons

movie was better than ratouille?? buddy, have you been in hit in head, lately

or ius matt groening holding a knife to your back or maybe you were just

seeing a rerun of an episode from a decade ago back in 90s when the simpsons

were great. I mean good lord it wasn't awful but, honestly it isn't half the

masterpeice that ratouille is. you know isn't it funny how a show brad bird

helped so much back in its golden years, like the simpsons, sukcs so badly

without him? hmm, too bad the simpsons boys didn't bed some of their talent

back for their climatic movie that turned out to be nothing special.

Essentially, Simpsonslover and Pianochess, get some help before you start

liking uwe bowl or dane cook movies, jeez. hope you someone helps you see

actual masterpieces and appreciating this living legend, named Mr. BRAD BIRD!

He is the real Iron Giant, all his movies stand so much higher than any

ridiculous criticism from deluded fools.

Jan 26 - 08:47 PM

pianochess

Linda Monday

Unfortunatly My daughter attends school. If you have children you know they pick up things from other children. As for Shrek 2 , 3, and Flushed Away, She wasn't allowed to see them. YOu, however, classicly avoided the issue with a very basic deflection of the topic. They are not allowed to watch the Simpsons or see the movie. And while you are so high and mighty when someone disagrees with you, its clear you've seen this garbage, I haven't. I was expecting something of quality and family from Pixar, I was dissapointed. It was too clever for it's own good. At least "A Bug's Life," another Pixar dissapointment, is useful in explaining Plantation Politics. This one is only useful in explaining Health Code Violations. Oh, by the way, very sexist of you to assume that because my name is Pianochess I must be a man. Wrong.

Jan 27 - 04:23 PM

High School With Money

LEEEROOOOOAAAAHHHH MMMYYAAAANKEEEUUUNNNNSSSS

pianochess -

I'm please to read that you're using these films to explain more complex adult issues to your kid, but I feel it's unfair to expect Pixar to adhere specifically to those rigid, historic topics while trying to tell more universal stories. With Ratatouille, "class and social strife" and "the nature of criticism" are other subjects touched upon, but so are more heartfelt ideas like "following your dreams" and "knowing the difference between a true friend and a friend of convenience", and Bird interweaves them all so well in this film, that when the ending comes it feels both realistic and just. A film this intelligent shouldn't be lambasted for simply being just that, despite how many kids' heads it goes over. Explaining these matters to them are parents are for.

But then, I might be rare, considering when I was a kid, I actively sought out deeper and different fare in animation (and back then, it was extremely hard to come by - you youngins have it easier! :D ).

Feb 2 - 02:50 AM

LiLHecLou

hector torres

congrats mr bird a job well done

Jan 25 - 12:58 PM

sokiveta.com

Michael Sokiveta

Incredibles is still my favorite, too.

But Brad Bird is amazing. He's the only director who can make a movie that doesn't leave me thinking, "It was good, but I would have changed a few things ...."

No, when you watch one of his movies you think, "Wow, they told that story perfectly!"

Jan 25 - 01:07 PM

Chris Lang

Chris Lang

Bob: So Pixar should have gone forward with the project anyway even through it wasn't working? Bird practically re-wrote the entire script, so saying he doesn't deserve it doesn't make much sense. You do realize a lot of Pixar's movies happen like this: they start over until they get it right.

Jan 25 - 01:20 PM

Bob*

bob askins

wasn't working? well I think we'll never know.

Don't get me wrong, I do like Bird's films a lot, besides is probably the only american filmmaker that really sees animation as a medium and not a genre but the whole stpry is so fishy that really makes me doubt.

Jan 25 - 06:57 PM

sonnyliew

sonny liew

you mean you smell... a rat? :p

Jan 26 - 01:49 AM

Bob*

bob askins

lol! XD

Jan 26 - 08:10 PM

sonnyliew

sonny liew

i did read that the director on toy story 2 was replaced midway; but that was because it was upgraded from a made-for-tv show into a feature length film, so they wanted an experienced director for it.

In the case of Ratatouille however, we have a story that oscar-winning (for "Geri's Game")Pinkava came up with and worked on for several years before it was taken away from him - which points to serious creative differences.

In that sense it would be interesting to know what happened - Pixar seen as the antithesis to Disney in many ways, but the lack of any substantial information on Pinkava's replacement suggests that it might not be a totally rosy picture behind the scenes :p

Jan 26 - 01:39 AM

michaelwalker

michael walker

A Crime? A bit overstated I must say

Jan 25 - 02:08 PM

sonnyliew

sonny liew

I was curious about Jan Pinkava's replacement by Bird on the story. Did some searching on the net, and it seems Pinkava's refusing to answer questions about it and has since left Pixar; beyond that no one seems to know much beyond vague talk about story problems.

Does anyone know what happened? Personally I'm curious to know what Pinkava's story was like - The final version of the movie was alright, but no great shakes - would Pinkava's version have been less commercial? less coherent? more intellectual?

Would be interesting to hear the story behind it all :)

Jan 25 - 03:15 PM

Willy105

William Figueroa

That movie was awesome.

Brad Bird is the best.

Jan 25 - 04:35 PM

simpsonslover

Dakotah Salazar

Great Movie, Sorry, I like simpsons movie better

Jan 25 - 05:08 PM

Bob*

bob askins

wasn't working? well I think we'll never know.

Don't get me wrong, I do like Bird's films a lot, besides is probably the only american filmmaker that really sees animation as a medium and not a genre but the whole stpry is so fishy that really makes me doubt.

Jan 25 - 06:57 PM

sonnyliew

sonny liew

you mean you smell... a rat? :p

Jan 26 - 01:49 AM

Bob*

bob askins

lol! XD

Jan 26 - 08:10 PM

~*Admiral Snowstorm*~

Dominique Amsterdam

Ratatouille has so far been the best movie I've seen so far this year. I haven't seen many 2007 releases, I'll admit it, but of the ones I have, Ratatouille is still my favorite. I got it as a Christmas present from my sister and have since watched it two or three times, and I'm feeling the urge to rewatch it again. I love the movie; it's so quintessentially well-done. Everything in it is topnotch. I'm glad Brad Bird won this award, because he truly deserves it. Yes, Pinkava started the story and worked on it, but Brad Bird is responsible for the Ratatouille we've been presented with, and thus, I have no problems with him receiving the Golden Tomato.

I'd honestly like to see Ratatouille win something alongside/in place of Best Animated Feature. Best Screenplay especially, because I adore the script. Best Animated is an award that most adults kind of overlook, because, let's face it, most of the contenders are usually children's films. This year we have Persepolis and Ratatouille, two films that are far more mature than the world has come to expect from the animated field, and yet, I doubt anyone who doesn't already recognize the worth of animation will notice. But if Ratatouille wins against live-action movies, movies that the adult movie-going public is familiar with, that might pique interest. And there can never be too many Pixar fans.

Jan 25 - 07:30 PM

sonnyliew

sonny liew

i did read that the director on toy story 2 was replaced midway; but that was because it was upgraded from a made-for-tv show into a feature length film, so they wanted an experienced director for it.

In the case of Ratatouille however, we have a story that oscar-winning (for "Geri's Game")Pinkava came up with and worked on for several years before it was taken away from him - which points to serious creative differences.

In that sense it would be interesting to know what happened - Pixar seen as the antithesis to Disney in many ways, but the lack of any substantial information on Pinkava's replacement suggests that it might not be a totally rosy picture behind the scenes :p

Jan 26 - 01:39 AM

sonnyliew

sonny liew

you mean you smell... a rat? :p

Jan 26 - 01:49 AM

Bob*

bob askins

lol! XD

Jan 26 - 08:10 PM

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