“What parent desires their kid to hug a plush toy rat?”

That’s the question Nikki Finke asks today, in a post at Deadline Hollywood Daily on the disadvantages that Disney has had to deal with as it markets and merchandizes Ratatouille, the only Pixar film that ever went into production without Disney’s approval.

And to that, I can only answer: My kids have been playing with a plush toy rat ever since their Auntie M gave them one months ago! Here it is, in a picture with my daughter Elizabeth, who is especially fond of sucking on the tails of her stuffed animals:

As for Ratatouille itself, I liked it, but I’m not as ga-ga for it as a lot of critics seem to be. (Do they like it so much because the film, in its own way, celebrates the power and discernment of critics?)

It’s a definite improvement over Cars (2006), though. I’ve got all of Pixar’s films on DVD, and all through Cars, I kept asking if I really wanted to get it on disc; however, for much of Ratatouille, I found myself looking forward to buying the disc some day.

The first act and the third act are both delightful — but the story sags in the middle, as plot mechanics threaten to take the place of character dynamics, so it ends up being a merely good film overall, rather than a great one. But good is still, y’know, good.

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