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Starring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter O'Toole

Directed by: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava

Produced by: Brad Lewis

Written by: Brad Bird
Distributor: Buena Vista


     Ratatouille is that rare film that is so delightfully well-made and so genuinely good that its content escapes the chokehold of only playing to a certain interested demographic. The slapsticky antics of the film’s action sequences might seem, at face value, to only appeal to young children, just as the wisdom the movie shares regarding the relationship between artists and critics might seem to only appeal to adults. But this is not the case at all: every scene in Ratatouille is so perfectly imagined and defined that it has the capacity to constantly excite every viewer in the audience. All too easily, reviewers often dub animated features as “Fun for the whole family!” in desperate attempts to suggest that adults, teenagers, and kids alike will be able to enjoy a given picture. With the release of Ratatouille, this claim has finally found a film for which it rings true.

     The movie’s protagonist is Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a young rat who has a peculiar passion for eating and creating sophisticated French food. Despite the fact that he’s barely four inches tall, Remy aspires to one day become a world-class chef in a five-star restaurant. When spending time in the kitchen of the house that harbors his family’s rat-colony, he marvels over the cookbook “Anyone Can Cook,” by his famed idol, the late Chef Gusteau. Soon enough, Remy’s wish to live the life of a chef becomes a reality when he fatefully ends up in the kitchen of Gusteau’s old restaurant, after his rat-colony is exposed and he must run away thorough the Paris Sewer System. Remy secretly begins adding spices and ingredients to enhance a soup being prepared there, and the dish instantly wins over the customers who order it. The entire kitchen assumes that this was the work of the new trash-boy, Linguini (the voice of Lou Romano), who soon discovers Remy was actually the one who altered the soup. As a team—Remy is able to control Linguini’s movements in the kitchen by pulling Linguini’s hair as if it was a series of puppet-strings—the two revitalize “Gusteau’s” into the five-star restaurant that it was before its acclaimed owner died. The movie’s climax, a wonderfully conceived representation of the artistic function of art-criticism, comes when Peter O’Toole’s Anton Ego, a bitter and nasty food critic, sits down to review one of Remy’s (which he assumes to be Linguini’s) creations.

     Like those of its fellow Disney/Pixar counterparts, Ratatouille’s visuals are vivid and eye-popping. The images, created by an extensive team of animators led by writer/director Brad Bird, are incredibly fluid and realized. However, Ratatouille’s characters and themes are what most make it the splendid motion picture that it is. Remy and Linguini make for a truly sympathetic pair, both in the kitchen and out. (The dynamic between Remy and his family, led by a father who believes Remy’s fruitful taste in cuisine is entirely ridiculous, proves strangely identifiable and poignant. In addition, there is a rather touching romance between Linguini and his fellow chef, Colette [voiced by Janeane Garofalo]). Ratatouille also displays infinite wisdom in regards to the subjects of the importance one’s pursuit of one’s personal passions, the vitality of art and the reactions that it invites in contemporary society, and the joyfulness of living a purposeful life. And the movie’s mighty funny and clever, too. The entire experience is riveting and exhilarating; while I am hesitant to label it a near-masterpiece immediately, I will admit that have seen few better films all year.


-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 6.29.2008

Screened on: 6.16.2007 at the Edwards San Marcos 18 in San Marcos, CA.


Ratatouille is rated G and runs 111 minutes.

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