We went to see Brad Bird's Ratatouille today. It hasn't been getting the authorship hype that I attach to it, but considering that The Incredibles was William's favorite film for a year and I probably watched it fifty times and even included it as one of the two mainstream films on my five must-see films in a book project a couple of years ago, and that Iron Giant contained one of the most endearing portrayals of an artist in American cinematic history, then it is amazing that the film was in theatres this long before I saw it. I've not read much reviewing it yet, but it certainly works on many levels, for kids and for adults, and I'm certain will hold up to multiple viewings (I'll let you know at Christmastime). Beyond the general praise for quality, humour, character, etc, I got to thinking about the role of the mother within the film. While Bird's other two films both had strong, intelligent, active, and present mothers, Ratatouille falls under the inscrutable Disney pattern of killing off the characters' mothers. The main rat has no mother, although his father has a strong presence and family is discussed as highly important. The main human character enters the film upon his mother's death and we only gain insights into his father. However, the mothers exert a strange and invisible domination. This young man is criticized for chopping vegetables like a mother in a kitchen rather than a professional in a restaurant. The restaurant critic's Achilles heal is nostalgia for his (faceless) mother's cooking. This pattern of dead dominating mothers has been discussed in critical papers elsewhere, but my question is, why would Brad Bird, who I think is one of the most clever storytellers of our day, fall into this Disney trap?