'Ratatouille' premiere fetes good food, toons


Most animated movies see their premieres thrown on weekend afternoons with an eye for the youngsters. But Walt Disney/Pixar's unveiling of "Ratatouille" bucked convention with a dressy Friday night gala at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and an afterparty at the Hollywood & Highland ballroom that was a feast for the eyes and the palate.

The unorthodox approach mirrored the filmmakers' views on animated movies.

"We're constantly being shoved to the kids table, and I think we're better than that," said the film's director, Brad Bird. "I like kids, but I think they are 10% of our audience. I don't make movies for kids, and I don't think Pixar does either. We make them for people who love movies, and part of that audience is kids."

Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter seconded that thought: "We make our movies so they play for everybody. There's a perception in Hollywood that animation is just for kids. And it's not. These movies do huge business and they live much longer than any other film. I don't understand why Hollywood doesn't look at it and say ‘Wow, this is something special,' the way we do. It's the only thing I've ever wanted to do in my entire life."

The premiere had a little for everybody, with French-dressed jugglers and painters mixing it up with a digital station that let guests insert themselves into, and interact with characters in, the "Ratatouille" trailer.

And while the tykes got juice, adults sipped champagne and enjoyed a lavish buffet included vichyssoise, tomato bisque, Nicoise salad and, of course, a five-star ratatouille, under the watchful eye of "Ratatouille" movie posters designed to capture French-style 1920s illustrations.

Patton Oswalt was already into cooking before he got plum gig of voicing Remy, the rat who wants to become a chef.

"I'm really into these celebrity chefs," he said. "I follow them around like rock stars. I have reservations at (Chicago restaurant) Alinea in July and it's like having White Stripes tickets."

Pixar executive vp production Jim Morris, meanwhile, credited Bird for another incredible job.

"Brad has a great story sense, and a great sense of staging and character performance and nuance," he said. There are few people who have more animation direction skills than him."