by Lauren Gard
An editor from the Web site MovieWeb toured Emeryville's very hush-hush Pixar this week, and what he discovered is worth reading about ... if you like to torture yourself, that is. "Hellbent on squeezing every ounce of creative fluid out of every employee, the campus is complete with pools, grassy valleys, an in house massage parlor and a spaciously designed interior layout (they even sport a giant indoor bridge) that would make even the most functional of feng-shui masters feel inefficient and lazy," writes Stephen Reedy. "Perfectly put by Ratatouille's lead, [comedian] Patton Oswalt, 'It's like Willy Wonka's place without the creepiness.'" Sigh! Some of us clearly chose the wrong career.
If you're eagerly awaiting the June 29 release of Ratatouille - a comedy about a French rat who aspires to be a top chef (alongside actual human chefs, that is) - you'll soak up Reedy's descriptions of the seven clips he viewed at Pixar. He also relates some info direct from director Brad Bird (who wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning "The Incredibles"). "Bird assures us that it'll be good despite the fact that it's one of the only summer movies that is not a sequel," he reports. Said Bird, "Just think of it as the prequel to the sequel!" (To hear Bird interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air in 2005, click here.)
If you ask us, the fact that it's not a sequel - and that Pixar has largely avoided creating them for the big screen thus far - is a major plus. Because the number of big budget sequels being released this summer - 14 - is mindboggling. (It's the second highest number ever.) The well-worn franchises include Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek, The Fantastic 4, Bourne, Ocean's and Harry Potter, among others.
The only other non-sequel major releases you'll have the chance to see apart from Pixar's rat tale? Transformers and The Simpsons Movie. How's that for originality?