Some other things to look for and marvel at:
The way the landscape looks as the rainstorm is starting, near the beginning of the film. The animators captured the way a summer storm looks — sunlight in the distance, raindrops smacking onto dry grass and leaves, and making them shake. It’s eerie and beautiful. It took me back to when I was a kid in Virginia, and those violent storms would hit after a sweltering day.
The floor of the kitchen. Warped and bent — it’s got a biography of hot things spilled on it, cold winters, scrubbings, more spills, etc. Also, check out the scuff marks where the freezer door’s been opened and closed over the decades.
When I hug Django and Emile (my father and brother, played by Brian Dennehy and Pete Sohn) Brad Bird really hugged me when I said the lines.
The fact that most of the chefs are ex-criminals with murky pasts. “If you can make a cake, you can make a bomb”. Pixar had originally staffed the kitchen with all French characters but, after doing research in actual kitchens in France, found out that kitchen staffing is one of the last true meritocracies left in the world. Their ONLY criteria is whether or not people can cook. It’s a skill that cuts across all divisions of race, religion, sex, creed, economics — and criminality. Read Anthony Bourdain’s first book about the drug-crazed, false passport-wielding lunatics he’s worked with, and Colette’s throwaway line about “pirates” will make a lot more sense.
Will Arnett’s cold, frightening, and hilarous read of Horst, the German chef, the most criminal of all the kitchen criminals.
Colette, like all great chefs, carries a “holster” of custom knives. Like the city design in MONSTERS INC., or the Gulf Stream in FINDING NEMO, it’s another perfect bit of background research that’s there if you look for it, but pretty much thrown away.
Remy’s little rat heart beating like a triphammer after he runs away from Linguini, and then pauses to look back. Look at his chest.
That first shot of Paris, which got a round of applause in Austin.
Everything that Ian Holm, as the evil Skinner, does — especially his teetering-on-the-edge-of-insanity rant to his lawyer about that “rat” that no one else sees but him. The animators I talked to had so much fun rendering his lines — “An animator’s dream”, according to one of the character design staff. Also, the animators used his toque like the shark’s fin in JAWS — you always see it moving closer among the stoves in the kitchen. Hilarious.
The disparity of light and noise between the kitchen (LOUD, OVERLIT) with the dining room (quiet, muted). Also, the animators nailed how, in four-star restaurants, the lighting is dimmed, but each table is “spot-lit”, like a little stage.
Sharon Calahan, the director of cinematography and lighting, deserves an Oscar.
Peter O’Toole, as Ego, saying, “How can it be POP-u-LAR?” That piece of audio was the Glengarry lead for all the animators — they couldn’t wait to render it.
Pay careful attention to Ego’s typewriter and the shape of his office.
There’s a crucial dish near the climax of the film that was designed by Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. When it makes its “debut” out of the oven, he teared up a little bit (according to producer Brad Lewis).
Lou Romano (Linguini, the inept chef) and Pete Sohn (Emile, my non-discriminating brother) were, indeed, Pixar animators who’d laid down scratch tracks and, after long and fruitless searches for the right voices, were given the roles.
Found these on mc chris’s myspace blog where you can also find various notes from/about the animators & animation.