This morning, I noticed a poster for the new Disney-Pixar animation movie Ratatouille, the story of a rat who dreams of becoming a top Parisian chef. There underneath the title, Ratatouille, was a phonetic transliteration: “rat-a-too-ee.” I checked out the film on the internet and, with every appearance of the film’s logo, there it was again: the title, and under it that phrase: “rat-a-too-ee.” I can’t help but find this amusing—and a bit depressing. No doubt the film has noble intentions—to alert children to the concept of gastronomy, to Parisian sophistication and the idea of eating healthily and well. But at the same time, those marketing it assume that no child could possibly be able to pronounce the word “ratatouille,” let alone know what it means, and hence regard a phonetic title as esssential. I don’t know—perhaps my reaction is largely a snobbish one (I knew what ratatouille meant as a child!), but I do think that patronising anyone, even children, is a bad idea.
(My colleague Tom Chatfield informs me, though, that the film itself is excellent—”the best film I’ve seen this year” were his precise words.)