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Ratatouille (A Movie Review)


Featuring the voices of Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Ian Holm, Janeane Garafolo, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Brad Garrett, Will Arnett, Julius Callahan, James Remar, John Ratzenberger, Teddy Newton, Tony Fucile, Jake Steinfeld and Peter O'Toole.

Screenplay by Brad Bird.

Directed by Brad Bird.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 110 minutes. Rated G.

If you ever doubt the magic of Pixar, you have to go no farther than Ratatouille, where the animators take arguably one of the dirtiest, most vilified animals in the world, the rat, and make him an adorable and lovable animated screen character.

Remy the rat is the latest of Pixar's quirky heroes who is misunderstood and in search of a dream. Remy lives with his pack in the French countryside, and despite the fact that he is from a race of scavengers, he has the heart of a gourmet. He has an unnaturally sharp palate, sense of smell and taste. He has always longed to visit Paris, never realizing he was relatively nearby.

When he becomes lost in a sewer and separated from his family, he is rather shocked to find himself eventually arriving at the left bank of the Seine. He naturally gravitates to the restaurant of a recently deceased chef who he had idolized. The Chef starts appearing to the rat (is he a ghost or just a dream?) and using Remy as an extreme example of his most cherished belief – anyone can cook.

Once there, Remy is horrified to find that the chef who has taken over the restaurant is trying to market the late Chef's name on everything from burritos to waffles. However, he meets a busboy named Linguine, who dreams of being a fine chef but does not have the skill. Together they team up to resurrect the restaurant's reputation as a highest quality bistro – though of course the idea of a rat in the kitchen is forbidden. Then Remy starts feeling left out when Linguine becomes taken with a beautiful sous chef.

The artwork of Ratatouille is staggering. The food looks sumptuous, and the shots of Paris are to die for. Ratatouille is definitely the best-looking Pixar film yet, though I still can't get over their inability to make humans look at all realistic. At least here they make efforts to give the human characters cartoonish attributes, so that most of them are not distracting.

The adult themes and subjects (love, culinary delights, vermin?) of this film may not stoke small children as much as... say... cars or toys. Still, Ratatouille is a charming flight of fantasy and one of the finest Pixar films to date.

Ken Sharp

Copyright ©2007 All rights reserved. Posted: July 9, 2007.

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