So instead of going to bed at a decent hour tonight, I decided to watch one of my favorite movies, Ratatouille, while eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream. If you haven’t seen or eaten those respectively, I highly recommend both. But here’s the thing about that movie: It actually illustrates a couple of points I made on this blog. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend closing this window, finding it, watching it, and then returning to this blog. There won’t be major spoilers, but if you care about that sort of thing, then you can consider this a spoiler alert.
Firstly, I don’t think I ever talked explicitly about motivation, but I have talked about the pinch and the ouch. In that post, I talk about how a character’s decisions and reactions have to be justified somehow, preferably in a way that makes logical sense. In Ratatouille, there is a scene in which Linguini, the main human character, has fallen asleep in the kitchen after staying up all night cleaning. Remy, the rat, runs inside and sees Linguini sleeping. Remy’s reaction is somewhat panicked and fearful. He runs to Linguini and desperately tries to get him to wake up. Why? I can’t figure it out. If Remy had just hid in his usual spot – under Linguini’s hat – someone would have come by eventually, woken the guy up, and maybe given him a reassuring pat on the shoulder or something. There wouldn’t have been a negative consequence, as far as I can tell. Especially not if Linguini had been able to explain himself. Something along the lines of “The boss asked me to stay and clean after he left last night, and I guess I fell asleep” would have done just fine. Even someone as spastic as Linguini could’ve figured that one out. Instead, all kinds of hilarious antics ensue as Remy tries to get Linguini to wake up while his love interest is talking to him. Everything turns out fine in the end, but I still can’t figure out what Remy’s motivation was.
That’s not my favorite moment, though. No, my favorite moment comes later, when Remy discovers the late chef Gusteau’s will in the current chef, Skinner’s, office. See, Remy tends to hallucinate conversations with Gusteau, and they have one such chat in this scene, with Remy conversing with a picture of Gusteau on Skinner’s desk. I am bringing up this scene because it fits in so perfectly with the pinch/ouch thing and also probably my post on dialogue. Below is a drawing of the scene that I did because sleeping is for stupid normal people.
Notice anything strange about that exchange? I’ll spell it out for you since I have the time.
Remy is confused. He’s just gone into a file that contains his hallucinated friend’s will, and found that it is somehow related to his living friend. He decides to ask his hallucinated friend why he just found things that pertain to his live friend (this would be Linguini) in the same file as Gusteau’s will. “Why would Linguini be filed with your will?” Remy asks. His hallucinated friend, Gusteau, decides to respond with, “This used to be my office.”
Now I ask you: Did that answer the question? Did it even relate to the question? No. Not even one bit. If Remy had asked, “Why is your stuff in some other chef’s office?” then maybe the response would have been justified. So yeah, just in case you thought I was wasting my time writing about dialogues and reactions that don’t match up, here’s some bona fide proof that it happens, and it gets past all kinds of editors and writers. It even got put into a movie. And no, I don’t know the reason for it. Because there might be one. This scene might have been longer, and they might have cut it down some, removing an important piece of dialogue in the process. I don’t know. But it does show that these mistakes happen, so you really do have to be careful.
Okay, that’s it. I’m totally going to bed now. I’ll even give you a Word of the Day even though this post was somewhat supplementary.
Word of the Day: Supplement (n) – Something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.