PROS: Disney-owned Pixar Animation Studios has yet to miss. Weighted heavily on "Ratatouille's" side is director Brad Bird, a known Pixar patriot, who previously hit big by putting an unknown superhero family on the screen with "The Incredibles." His new computer-animated movie is set in France and stars an unusual top French chef -- a rat named Remy. A sneak peek shows "Ratatouille" embodies some classic Disney themes: believe in yourself, follow your dreams, the value of friendship. To top it off, a trip to Paris by way of the local theater will offer lovely 'toon renditions of the misty River Seine, Notre Dame and a bustling French kitchen in which man and rat unite forces to keep their five-star restaurant aligned.
CONS: It's about a rat. A rat preparing food for humans. And last year's "Flushed Away" from DreamWorks Animation -- also about talking Euro rats -- failed to catch on big with audiences, taking in about $65 million at the box office.
"The Simpsons Movie"
Opens: July 27
PROS: How about 20 years of a rabid fan base for starters? Come July, the beloved cartoon family -- Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, and a supporting cast of thousands -- will venture far afield of its usual antics in misfit Springfield. In the silver-screen debut, the story line (referred to by creator Matt Groening as "Homer's odyssey") boasts blockbuster action: a pack of rabid dogs, torch-carrying angry mobs, flaming fireballs, slow-motion bullets, canyon jumps and massive shootouts. Movie fan sites have already posted glowing early reviews, although whether those are the musings of real fans or just marketing plants from 20th Century Fox has yet to prove out.
CONS: The couch potato factor haunts Springfield's leap onto the big screen. Will fans really pay for a movie when the cartoons are available for free right there on their TVs? Meantime, we can all brace ourselves for the return of the once-ubiquitous "Cowabunga" and "D'oh!" as we walk down to the local Quik-E-Mart for chips and a beer.