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Ratatouille

A 2007 Disney / Pixar animated co-production directed by Brad Bird.

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Perhaps Pixar's Finest Work To Date

  • Feb 5, 2011
Rating:
+5

I might as well come right out with it:  Any attempts to discount Pixar’s absolute mastery of the craft of computer animated features are absolutely futile from this critic from this moment forward.  Until now I’ve been pretty consistent in giving their ballyhooed works 4-star ratings due to the sheer cleverness of their plots and the attention to detail of their visual prowess (sometimes even tainted in protest by Disney’s habit of over-promoting) but 2007’s Ratatouille has managed to so thoroughly touch upon every single element of what makes a classic film that it nearly single-handedly atones for every set of Toy Story bed sheets or Finding Nemo lunchboxes bartered the world over.

Well I suppose as is customary, I should begin this review with a short synopsis of the story with one caveat: Ratatouille really doesn’t lend itself to summation.  I knew this going in when all of the pre-purchase research I did led to the same shaky conclusion: Really, a tale about a cooking rat in France?  Never mind all that! This is to French rat chefs what Wall-E is to your trash compactor or what Monsters Inc is to applying for a job at the electric company.  In other words, Pixar takes a fairly mundane concept and packs it so chock full of charm and personality that we would be captivated just looking at an animated lamp.  Oh wait, they’ve proven that already but I digress.

Ratatouille centers on the tale of Remy, a gray rat gifted with a sense of smell. With aspirations of using his talents to concoct gourmet dishes, he is instead given the most un-romantic task of sniffing out rat poison for his rodent colony.

When his family is forced to abandon their home in the walls of a cottage in the French countryside, Remy is separated from his brood and ends up in the sewers of Paris. In hunger and desperation, Remy has a hallucination of his lifelong idol, the recently deceased chef Auguste Gusteau. Following Gusteau's advice, Remy finds himself at the skylight overlooking the kitchen of Gusteau's world famous restaurant.  By fate, destiny or just good fortune, the wheels are in motion to put Remy in a position to showcase his repressed talents.

Well if after having read all this, the plot sounds awesome to you, congratulations.  You are already ahead of where I was going in.  I really couldn’t imagine a full-length animated feature film (and one at 111-minutes at that) about said topic being terribly intriguing and yet I was pleasantly surprised almost immediately.

Like most Pixar pieces the exact source of the charm isn’t even easily identified.  There is abundant attention to visual and textural detail on a near frame per frame basis, the voice acting is spot on and the character animations are, well, pure Pixar and yet even still I can’t help but profess a certain degree of subtle wit and faultless timing that never allows the viewer to forget this is a high class Disney venture through and through.

Pacing is downright spectacular with just enough character building and story-setting to establish the tone of what’s to come.  The action wastes little time revealing itself and is remarkably satisfying throughout the multiple incarnations contained within.

The scoring is Michael Giacchino, which, suffice to say, is downright spectacular with beautiful soaring compositions and personal mood-setters scattered throughout.

In all it’s difficult to adequately isolate just what it is that makes Ratatouille so wondrous.  I like to think that, like all of Brad Bird’s works, there isn’t a single factor that outshines the others so much as it’s the culmination of years of lessons learned both in 2D and 3D animation mediums.

The script contains the type of polish and fineness that comes only with years of tweaking and rewriting.  Scenes flow with deliberate prose, sequences form with near-poetic resolve, and the grand story arc is seamless in its delivery.

About the only thing I can say that even resembles a complaint about this work is the simple reality that of all the Pixar pieces, a strong argument could be made that this one is the most adult-oriented of the lot.  Not that kids won’t marvel at the bright colors, cute characters, and general onscreen action, it seems much of the subtleties, humor, pacing and gourmet food integration will certainly be better appreciated by the older set.

In all I’m quite proud to finally slap a perfect 5-star rating on a Disney/ Pixar property.  This one finally delivers, for me anyway; the potential hinted upon in every Pixar film prior and since and does so with style, grace and humor.  Director Brad Bird concludes his interview on the disc by saying that he loves the medium of computer animation and that fact’s apparent here from beginning to end.

Perhaps Pixar's Finest Work To Date Perhaps Pixar's Finest Work To Date Perhaps Pixar's Finest Work To Date Perhaps Pixar's Finest Work To Date

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July 15, 2011
I absolutely agree. This one goes down in my books along with Brad Bird's other film "The Incredibles" as the top Pixar movies. They have a certain sophistication that depicts things in the adult world but in a way that it's still accessible to kids. Great characters too.
July 16, 2011
I really have no excuse for taking such a leisurely road to this one; I had heard good things all along but couldn't quite get excited about it. That all changed a few moments in. "Sophistication" is a beautifully fitting word choice. Thanks for the read.
 
February 13, 2011
One of the ones that surprised me the most, great write up.
July 16, 2011
Thanks FM_A!
 
February 07, 2011
This one is my favorite too! I agree it is simply superb and I like it more than any other Pixar film.
February 08, 2011
Thanks for the read/ feedback EcoMama. I took my sweet time getting to this film and regret having waited so long now!
 
February 05, 2011
being a great food connoisseur, a thing for french women who can cook, a firm believer of surpassing one's limits....this my fave Pixar film to date! Thank you for the excellent review!!
February 08, 2011
Thanks William. You clued me in on this one way back when! Like always, your praise for the piece was spot on. Thanks for the read my man.
 
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More Ratatouille reviews
review by . January 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
All great recipes, whether the provincial peasant dish ratatouille (a vegetable stew), or the greatest and newest dish by Charlie Trotter, draw from the ordinary. Such is the romance of eating. It is the combining of the known to create something previously unknown. Salt, tomatoes, sugar, butter are not unusual, but, in the hands of a master chef, they are ingredients for art.      Such is the movie Ratatouille. Its history is the simple, oft-told childhood tale of the elves …
Quick Tip by . March 24, 2011
Caption
Re-watched this when I got the bluray. Never fails to engage me once I get into the film's first act. I have a weakness for food, cooking and I have to admit I just love the message in this film. Truly engaging, funny, sometimes quirky but it is an animated film with a heart.      Still my favorite Pixar movie to date! (even edging out THE INCREDIBLES)
review by . March 03, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I had a favorite animated movie that had to take the back seat after I saw Ratatouille. I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to watch it and understand it, along with all the puns and humor. I've watched it several times with different audiences and everyone loves it - so it is a must have in our family library.     I studied French all through middle and high school, so this was quite relevant. I have never really had encounters with French people and I've never been …
review by . May 05, 2009
  Going into this movie as a culinary student, I had my reservations, bu Ratatouille really comes through as a great family flick as well as a tad educational. Obviously the headline of this film as that anybody can be a cook and to the point that this film wanted to get across, it's true. Anyone can follow a recipe, even a...rat. Despite the fact that this is something that can never happen in reality, it was fun to watch the interactions between Remy (the rat) and Linguini (the not so …
review by . December 18, 2008
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pixar movies, but this has to take the cake as my absolute, all time favorite.     The movie is about a rat named Remy who strays away from his family and tries to make his name by helping a young boy named Linguini to make phenomenal dishes at a restaurant where he is currently a janitor.  One day when Remy accidently makes a great dish that's raved about by critics, the chefs at the restaurant force Linguini to recreate the dish.  Remy hides under …
review by . November 16, 2008
A rat resided in a colony   His keen sense of smell was an anomaly   But there were cooking channels on French TV   He learned to cook from a recipe   And he was cooking before he knew it, and as he grew   He said, "I'm not gonna be like you, Dad,   "I'm just not gonna be like you."     And the rat's in the kitchen with the cooking spoon   Chef Gusteau by the light of the moon   When you comin' home, …
review by . December 20, 2008
I really enjoyed watching Ratatouille. Oh, and if you've never had the actual dish, you're missing out! But back to the movie. I've seen this with people younger than me, my peers, and even adults, and it seems to please every age group.    I won't go into the details of the plot, but instead, I'll just say what I got out of it. In my opinion, the film insists that everyone should be given a chance, no matter who they are or what they look like. In this case, the most unlikely …
review by . July 10, 2008
Many, many companies have created movies that focused on relationships between animals, people, and inanimate objects as key plot lines. Most of these movies come up short as the interactions between humans and non-humans often seem forced or fake; examples include "All Dogs go to Heaven", "Howard the Duck", "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Cool World". But Pixar has mastered this art, with classics such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and now Ratatouille. Released in 2007, this movie is by far the best …
review by . May 03, 2008
I was so disappointed by this movie. All the hype and talk and ...nothing. The animation was absolutely excellent, really outstanding. The story was rather slow and had way to many "messages". The "don't steal" message had me rolling my eyes every single of the 10000 times it was mentioned. It was an obvious way to build up to the climax of the story. And really, G rated? There is a woman, with a gun, wrestling with a man for said gun and then they make up; the kissing scene - you can see their …
review by . January 27, 2008
This is a wonderful ugly duckling/cyrano de bergerac fable about a talented chef who happens to be a rat. You might think that this would be an insurmountable handicap in the chef-business, but I can assure you that true ratliness would be a step up for a few in the profession. Anyway, the ratchef, Remy survives a series of threats to his life and comes to pursue the career for which he has such aptitude.  The animation is wonderful, someone obviously paid a lot of attention to how things …
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Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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Wiki

With astounding animation, inspirational messages, and endearing characters, Pixar Animation Studios (THE INCREDIBLES, CARS) and Walt Disney Pictures have whipped up something special with RATATOUILLE. A rat named Remy (Patton Oswalt) lives in Paris with a dream (and the talent) to be a chef. Opting to raid the kitchens of Paris rather than the garbage cans and sewers of the city with his family, Remy is inspired by the philosophy of one of the city?s most legendary chefs, the late Gusteau (Brad Garrett). One night, Remy can?t resist practicing his skill in Gusteau?s restaurant. While his guard is down, Remy is discovered by a klutzy young man, Linguini (Lou Romano), who cleans the kitchen. Together Remi and Linguini become a culinary duo, with Remy playing puppeteer by concealing himself under Linguini?s chef?s hat. Remy pulls Linguini's hair to direct his hands, helping to bring Remy?s creations to life. Soon Gusteau?s restaurant becomes the talk of the town--but would it still be the toast of Paris if...

One key point: if you can get over the natural gag reflex of seeing hundreds of rodents swarming over a restaurant kitchen, you will be free to enjoy the glory ofRatatouille, a delectable Pixar hit. Our hero is Remy, a French rat (voiced by Patton Oswalt) with a cultivated palate, who rises from his humble beginnings to become head chef at a Paris restaurant. How this happens is the stuff of Pixar magic, that ineffable blend of headlong comedy, seamless technology, ...
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Details

Director: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Release Date: 29 June 2007 (USA)
MPAA Rating: G
Screen Writer: Brad Bird, Jim Capobianco
DVD Release Date: November 6, 2007
Runtime: 111 min
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Studios
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