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Gleeful adults lap up symphony’s ‘Ratatouille’

While garbage boy Linguini watches, Remy the rat adds a finishing touch to a dish in “Ratatouille,” Pixar’s animated feature film — the score of which the San Francisco Symphony reproduced tasty note for note. Courtesy photo.

While garbage boy Linguini watches, Remy the rat adds a finishing touch to a dish in “Ratatouille,” Pixar’s animated feature film — the score of which the San Francisco Symphony reproduced tasty note for note. Courtesy photo.

Sarah Hicks swayed a lot leading the San Francisco Symphony’s “Ratatouille in Concert.”

Sarah Hicks swayed a lot leading the San Francisco Symphony’s “Ratatouille in Concert.”

It was almost as captivating for me to watch the San Francisco Symphony during musical pauses as when the orchestra was in full sway.

The instrumentalists seemed to be grinning a lot more than usual.

Possibly a spillover from “Ratatouille,” Pixar’s brilliant animated feature film colorfully gamboling on a huge screen above them.

 With subtitles — just in case a forceful passage might drown out the cartoonish soundtrack voices.

Like me, they might also have been smiling at conductor Sarah Hicks habitually swaying in tight black slacks and off-the-shoulder blouse, long dark hair bouncing in time to the lighthearted notes.

I’m normally not a big fan of animation.

Or of rodents.

Although Disney’s “Fantasia,” which highlights both classical music and Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer’s apprentice, sits among my all-time cinematic favorites.

Pixar’s playful “Ratatouille” doesn’t make that list, but it’s a day-brightener nonetheless.

I’ve seen it several times before, but never with as much delight as the other afternoon when I caught the 110-minute, Paris-based, Academy Award-winning film at Davies Hall in San Francisco.

My wife and nine-year-old granddaughter were in tow for “Ratatouille in Concert,” proving both film and orchestra can leap all age barriers.

The three of us agreed — with a resounding oui.

Personally, experiencing a live orchestra added a significant layer of depth to the heart-warming, belly laugh-inducing film as I followed Remy the rat’s emergence — with the aid of an awkward garbage boy, Linguini — from the sewers of Paree to the kitchen of a classy restaurant made famous by his late culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau, author of a best-selling book, “Anyone Can Cook.”

Remy an acknowledged gourmet chef? A raticulous concept perhaps.

But charming in its execution.

Including the occasional insertion of upbeat philosophy. Such as: “If you focus on what you left behind you’ll never see what lies ahead.”

Writer-director Brad Bird — who introduced both film and Michael Giacchino, composer of the Grammy-winning score, to the packed symphony audience at the “Summer with the Symphony” affair — has crafted a whole series of characters I can relish again and again, with food drawn so well it’s truly sensuous.

And Giacchino’s jazzy score is tasty, note by note, beginning to end — without ever being ponderous.

Pizzicato aplenty.

Percussion and piccolo aplenty.

Superimposed on a frequent flavoring of sweet strings.

I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the symphony synched its work perfectly to the soundtrack.

Patton Oswalt, a comedian-actor I’ve never especially liked, is the voice of the Rocky-like Remy. But he’s ideal here (even though he couldn’t erase my distaste for real-life rodents).

As are Ian Holm as Skinner, the villainous chef, and Peter O’Toole as Anton Ego, a critic whose nose is firmly planted in the air.

In movie theaters, audiences normally stampede out as the credits roll. In Davies, not one soul left.

All seemed rapt with the entire film and spirited score — caught up in what Bird had said: “These guys work all their lives to get this good.”

They also followed his suggestion to “have fun in the concert hall.”

By booing the villain, clapping for the hero.

My granddaughter didn’t boo or hiss but did applaud. And gushed about enjoying Remy control Linguini by tugging on his hair.

And bemoaned the fact that an intermission stopped the movie and music.

While she and other kids near me apparently were enthralled, and laughed a great deal, their enthusiasm couldn’t begin to match adult reactions. Many older beings bounced in their seats with glee, cheering and clapping spontaneously as Remy endured various gyrations to become an acknowledged master chef.

Yes, the symphony, by taking the film out of the movie house, proved that “Ratatouille” could actually be a movable feast.

Upcoming San Francisco Symphony film series performances at Davies, Grove Street (between Van Ness and Franklin), San Francisco, will include “2001: A Space Odyssey” on Oct. 14 and 15, “On the Waterfront” on Jan. 7 and 8, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on April 14 and 15, and “Casablanca” on June 2 and 3. Information: (415) 864-6400 or www.sfsymphony.org. 

Contact Woody Weingarten at voodee@sbcglobal.net or www.vitalitypress.com/

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