#3 – ‘Lifted’
Now, let me make one thing clear: I had technically planned on putting this earlier within the series, as it isn’t exactly my 3rd biggest reason to see this film, but then I forgot about it. However, as I’ve considered it, I think that it perhaps deserves a spot high on this list regardless of how fantastic Ratatouille itself is. Because, like most Pixar films, ‘Ratatouille’ ships to your local theatre with an animated short film attached to it. That animated short is the Oscar-nominated ‘Lifted’ from Gary Rydstrom, and it is Reason #3 you should see Ratatouille. Why? Because it is both stylistically and thematically connected with Brad Bird’s feature film, and prepares you well for the greatness to follow.
Lifted is a charming piece of physical comedy that finds itself fitting right in with the other silent Pixar shorts such as One Man Band (Which premiered in front of Cars last year) and For the Birds which debuted in front of Monsters Inc. It is the story of a small green alien who is taking a test at the human abduction portion of an Alien’s training. That involves, in this case, extracting a young male from his room by pressing a series of buttons on a giant switchboard reminiscent of a sound designer’s board (There’s a reason for this). In the process, hilarious gags ensue and laughs are had.
Gary Rydstrom, the short’s director, is in fact a sound designer, and has never quite directed anything like this before. That inspiration can be seen throughout: not only in the switchboard, but in the use of a sterile soundtrack and the use of sound effects to both punctuate the existing humour and add humour in their own right. That is what gives Lifted much of its charm, and perhaps some of its best gags.
However, the reason I want to highlight this is that not only is it added value (The short is great to see on the big screen, and original content before a film sure beats nothing but commercials), but it also prepares the audience well for the film to follow. Like Ratatouille, which employs a great deal of physical comedy, Lifted is all about great physical comedy gags and punctuates its jokes well. It may not be subtle, but its broad comedy gets you laughing and puts you in a good mindset to forget that you’re watching a rat cooking and enjoy the film’s genius in the process.
Last year, One Man Band actually occasionally overshadowed Cars for some moviegoers, and there was no thematic or content flow between them. Here, Lifted contains the same type of comedy that Ratatouille mines from in its own story, and as a result you have a complete package. This extra few minutes of original Pixar material is something that you don’t get with too many other films, and it’s Reason #3 you should see Pixar’s Ratatouille.