Rats, Mice and Men.

I love a good story. I love good characters even better. Those with heart and soul. Pixar and Brad Bird know how to focus on both. Ratatouille is scripted well and is a charming film which I left the cinema feeling proud to be French. (Before I reminded myself that I am in fact English.)

That's why I loved reading John Steinbeck's book Of Mice and Men as a kid. It had characters you cared about. They had heart and soul; you believed, you cared, you cried.

Lenny in Of Mice & Men likes dead mice as they are soft.
Linguini in Ratatouille likes a rat as it helps him cook.

But the difference?

In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Lenny & George dream of a better life. Steinbeck doesn't deliver it to them.

In Ratatouille the rodent is soft but alive, as is the message of the script. Brad Bird delivers the dream.

Which is closer to life?


Most of the time we get the Steinbeck conclusion, the hope is allusive, life smashes our dreams in painful blows.

But just occasionally we get the Ratatouille. The hope, the dream delivers.

I think that's why adults like films like Ratatouille, we know that the world is cast as a Steinbeck landscape, but the child in us knows there is always the hope of a happy ending.

We need both in literature. I dislike the demand for a happy ending as much as I hate the insistence that a real, gritty, literary book should have an end note of despair.

A kid's film with a rat compared to a classic literary giant like Of Mice and Men?

Stranger things are in my head!
Maybe I'll show you sometime.

What do you think: Is there such a thing as a happy ending in the real world?



Paul said...

Interesting comparison, Mike. I enjoyed reading this piece, but now, as a fan of 'Of Mice and Men', feel I have to watch 'Ratatouille'---you've planted a strong, albeit bizarre, association between the two.

Mike French said...

Sorry if I've messed with your head Paul!

funkygirl012003 said...

Yes, that is an interesting comparison. I was struck when watching Ratatouille how complex the plot was for a kid's movie and how it didn't quite give a fairy tale ending, which I really enjoyed.

The writers could have worked something out where the original restaurant stayed open, people accepted rats and on top of it they got their five stars back, but of course in real life that just wouldn't happen. Yet, it did have a happy ending in the reopening of a new cafe.

Mike French said...


Welcome! I often find the strength of Pixar is in their writing. Interesting that in Of Mice and Men, Lenny and George dream of their own farm together and in Rataouille Linguini and Remy
get their own restaurant, so I think that the fact the original restaurant closed down is clever.

O and thanks for the comment on my first post at Go! Smell the Flowers


where I now write as well!

FriedClyde said...

i rather enjoyed Ratatouille quite abit, i some am fascinated with nimation movies because the characters can do so much more.

GO! Smell the flowers said...

A quality post Mike and one that is inspired us to go and watch the film....sounds more twisty turny than the trailer led us to belive...

Clever stuff!

Mike French said...

Friedclyde: Especially when under the contol of Pixar.

Go! Smell the Flowers: Thanks, enjoy. Like most Pixar films there is loads for the adults.

Pixar? Love em!

Brigid said...

Loved Ratatouille! I thought it sad that the restaurant closed, but the ending was very good. We don't always get what we want, but often we can get something just as good. (Happened to me lots of times.)