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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.79%
Average: 8.05%
Pretty Bad: 1.15%
Total Crap: 1.15%

8 reviews, 39 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Who would have thought Disney could succeed with a cartoon rodent?"
5 stars

With the brilliant animated films "Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles" already under his belt, writer-director Brad Bird comes to "Ratatouille" with great expectations heaped upon him. Adding to the pressure is the fact that many people viewed "Cars," Pixar's last effort, as representing a slight decline in quality after such acclaimed efforts as "Finding Nemo," "Monsters Inc.," and Bird's own "Incredibles."

"Cars" must have been an anomaly, then, because "Ratatouille" is as almost as funny, joyful, and heartfelt as anything that Pixar's merry band of genius-nerds has ever done. We're at the point now where you can just say, "It's a Pixar movie," and that sums it up.

Our hero is Remy (voice of Patton Oswalt), a rat of undetermined age who lives with his colony in the French countryside near Paris. He is unique among rats because he has a refined palate. While everyone else sees mere garbage and feasts upon it, he sees the individual ingredients and is appalled by them. Like so many of his Disney brethren before him, he yearns for something more than this humdrum existence! He longs to dine on tasty foods exquisitely prepared. He wishes he were someplace where his gourmet sensibilities were appreciated, not mocked, as they are by his father (Brian Dennehy) and simple-minded brother (Peter Sohn). (Another thing Remy shares in common with his Disney brethren is that he does not seem to have a mother.)

An emergency forces the rats out of their dwelling into the sewers, where Remy is separated from the group and winds up, as luck would have it, in the crawl space at Gusteau's, the finest restaurant in all of France! The late Chef Gusteau (Brad Garrett) was famous for his "Anyone can cook!" philosophy. Remy has seen reruns of his TV show, courtesy of the old woman whose attic the rats used to live in, who frequently fell asleep in front of the TV. Now the spirit of Gusteau appears to Remy as a guide, a conscience, and a figment of his imagination, encouraging him to follow his dreams.

From Remy's vantage point in the ceiling, we see the kitchen at Gusteau's. The new chef is Skinner (Ian Holm), a short, angry little man who has sold out Gusteau's name to merchandisers, with microwaveable products like Gusteau's BBQ Dip 'n Ribs now in your grocer's freezer. The restaurant's five-star rating has dwindled to three, due in part to negative reviews from the great food critic Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole), an austere, humorless man who takes no pleasure in anything. The restaurant is surviving, but just barely.

Skinner is obligated to hire a clean-up boy named Linguini (Lou Romano), an awkward young fellow whose mother was a friend of Gusteau's back in the day. Linguini doesn't want to become a chef, particularly, recognizing he has no talent for the culinary arts; he can barely take out the trash without screwing it up.

Through a series of hilarious and strangely logical events (if you can accept that a rat understands human speech and knows how to cook), Remy and Linguini become partners. Remy can cook, but he's a rat. Linguini is in the kitchen and has the opportunity to make something of himself, but he has no skills. Together, they can do it. Or as Linguini sums it up to his new rat friend, "You know how to cook, and I know how to appear human!"

Soon Linguini is the toast of the town, elevating Gusteau's back to its original place of prominence. He prepares his masterpieces by putting Remy under his chef's hat, where the rodent pulls Linguini's hair like a rider controlling a horse's reins, guiding him to the right ingredients and preparations. No one can know his secret -- they would think he was crazy if he told them a rat was his mentor -- and Skinner becomes increasingly jealous and suspicious of this gawky new prodigy.

I am delighted by every aspect of the film, from Michael Giacchino's perfectly breezy score, to the whimsically bizarre storyline (how does anyone even think of something like this?), to the way that crazy story is brought to life reasonably and intelligently by Bird's nuanced script. There is a surprising complexity to the film, with multiple relationships being juggled all at once. There's Remy's connection to his dad and brother, his conflicting desire to be a gourmet chef, Linguini's crush on fellow cook Colette (Janeane Garofalo), Remy's association with Colette (they're both competing for attention from Linguini), Skinner's paranoia that there's a rat living in the kitchen. The rightful ownership of the Gusteau brand name comes into play, as does Remy's desire to stop being a "thief" (that's what rats are, you know). And somehow, Anton Ego figures into the whole thing.

The comparative ease with which computer-animated films can now be made has led to a rash of bad ones: "Hoodwinked," "Happily N'Ever After," "Everyone's Hero," "Madagascar," and so forth. Enduring those movies' gracelessness makes you appreciate it all the more when someone comes along and does it right. "Ratatouille" is packed with beautiful images of Paris, drawn to look quaint and old-style, though the film is apparently set in the present. There are imaginative camera angles and movement, and a stunning attention to detail. The characters move and emote with fluidity, not stiffly, the way some films would have it. Even the way Skinner pours a glass of wine, with that slight rotation of the bottle at the end of the pour, is perfectly rendered. Pixar has, once again, raised the bar on the technical side of making an animated film.

The non-technical elements don't lack, either, though it's fair to say it's not the most emotionally overwhelming thing Pixar has done. It doesn't pack the punch of "Toy Story 2" or "Finding Nemo," for example; the characters, while engaging and sympathetic, don't connect with the audience at quite that level. That's more an observation than a complaint, though. There really isn't much at all that I would change about this visual, imaginative feast.

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originally posted: 06/29/07 09:55:28
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User Comments

6/06/18 bored mom The ultimate allegory for great artists pursuing their dreams. Remy is the best! 5 stars
1/06/15 Mario is the Best Not as good as most of Pixar's other movies. 3 stars
9/11/12 marta gilson I can watch this over and over and over 5 stars
10/19/11 Magic Essentially perfect in every way. Lighting, script, cinematography, character design, yeah. 5 stars
3/31/11 TG A truly enjoyable family film. Will make you want cheese. 5 stars
10/24/09 Alex71 A routine is established for rest and play. , 5 stars
10/23/09 Alex41 Democratic Party candidates as a partisan publication. , 4 stars
10/16/09 Billy cute 1 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. if you're on a diet, don't watch this. :P 4 stars
9/08/08 Carol Durbin I absolutely love this movie and watch it often with my son. Awesome!!! 5 stars
8/15/08 Shaun Wallner My daughter loves this movie! 5 stars
3/04/08 Matt Raises the bar and stands out as the best animated film ever. Remy's the man! 5 stars
2/10/08 pixie dust More quality animation from the curent masters, a cute gem 4 stars
12/29/07 David Cohen The first Pixar movie that did not make me laugh once 2 stars
11/09/07 Charles Tatum Strong, but long, Pixar 4 stars
10/24/07 William Goss First Pixar film to appeal to the soul rather than the heart, and it works. Kudos, O'Toole. 4 stars
10/21/07 katsat There is so much to love about this film. A masterpiece! 5 stars
10/01/07 Jason great movie! 5 stars
9/02/07 Mindyh This movie has everything a great animated film has. 5 stars
8/13/07 katsat Amazing on so many different levels - my favorite Pixar film ever. 5 stars
7/20/07 Pokejedservo What can I say? This is another great Pixar film... 5 stars
7/15/07 Jason it was a really great funny movie 5 stars
7/11/07 Tiffany Losco my daughter loved this movie. So cute, and funny 5 stars
7/08/07 critic's critic This review is more about you showing off than about the movie. 5 stars
7/08/07 Russ Gladchenko An excellent movie for the everyone. I've enjoyed almost every Pixar movie made to date. 5 stars
7/07/07 AnnieG Excellent film - seems to be more for adults than kids. 5 stars
7/06/07 Mike J Best film from the best film studio out there 5 stars
7/06/07 Crispin My 6 yr old daughter and I both loved it. My humorless wife merely enjoyed it. 5 stars
7/05/07 stepalone Magnificient 5 stars
7/04/07 PamE Terrific film. Pixar does it again Way to go Patton Oswalt 5 stars
7/03/07 laura bennett loved it..... 4 stars
7/02/07 Mr X Another Pixar blockbuster, nuff said. 5 stars
7/01/07 BritishKnights Bird's story was written and finished before Cars was released, do your research! 5 stars
7/01/07 Dark Enchantress the best disney-pixar movie ever! I loved it! 5 stars
7/01/07 Sano Pixar has cooked up a charming treat of a movie! 5 stars
7/01/07 Faimen At the end of the film, my son turned to me and asked "Can we buy this?" Says it all. 5 stars
6/30/07 Ole Man Bourbon Easily one of the best films this decade. 5 stars
6/30/07 Quigley Amazingly delicious Pixar film. These guys make the best movies these days, hands-down 5 stars
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  29-Jun-2007 (G)
  DVD: 06-Nov-2007



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