Review: Ratatouille

Published 7 years ago by

By Vic Holtreman

Short version: Pixar knocks another one out of the park with this extremely smart, touching and funny movie.

ratatouille Review: RatatouilleFor some reason the commercials and trailers for Pixar’s latest animated release Ratatouille just didn’t do much for me. I was concerned that Brad Bird and company might have finally lost their magical touch. However I started to hear that the movie was very, very good some time last week and started to look forward to checking it out.

Well I’m happy to report that it’s not just very good, but Ratatouille is in fact great.


Ratatouille starts out as your basic fish out of water story, the same concept that has been used over and over again in movies aimed at kids. However you’ll be engaged almost immediately by Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), with his charming personality and matter-of-factness. He’s just not cut out for the rat lifestyle of stealing and skulking about – but worst of all he has a very sensitive palate and cannot abide by the idea of eating garbage.

He’s the son of the rat pack’s (sorry, couldn’t help myself) leader, and he has a not-so-bright but endearing brother (named Emile and voiced by Peter Sohn) who will eat anything that isn’t nailed down. Remy is entranced by Gusteau (voiced by Brad Garrett), the world’s greatest chef, who he watches on the television in the house where his clan resides. Gusteau believes that anyone can learn to cook, and he’s a huge guy with a heart to match. Unfortunately critic Anton Ego (voiced by Peter O’Toole and looking like an escapee from a Tim Burton animated film) has taken a dislike to Gusteau and writes a scathing review with dire consequences for the great chef.

Skinner (voiced by Ian Holm) who was the sous-chef (aka second-in-command in the kitchen) has taken over and is more concerned with creating a frozen-microwave dinner empire based on terrible food with Gusteau’s name than he is on creating any new dishes for the patrons of the restaurant. Along comes the very endearing and bumbling young man Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano) who eventually becomes a threat to Skinner. Through a very funny sequence of events Remy ends up helping Linguini cook amazing meals that immediately become the most popular at the restaurant.

The characters in this film are amazing, but what really surprised me was that here I was watching a G-rated animated movie – and I was dying to find out what would happen next! I don’t recall feeling that way while watching a movie of any rating in a very long time, and Ratatouille did not disappoint with it’s results. The animation was top notch, with the backgrounds at times seeming so real that I think they were indistinguishable from live action. One thing I found interesting after sitting all the way through the credits is that Pixar uses NO motion capture techniques when creating their films. Very impressive.

There is also a great cast of extras, including Collete, who is instructed to take Linguini under her wing, and a cast of other characters in the kitchen all with mysterious (but not scary) backgrounds.

This movie was funny, touching and had me wondering what would come next. I don’t know how Brad Bird and company continue to produce G-rated films that are so incredibly watchable by adults, but I look forward to their next film Wall-E and wish that other makers of animated films aimed at kids would learn something from these guys.

The only reason that I didn’t give it 5 out 5 stars is that frankly there were a couple of scenes that creeped me out when the rats were shown en masse. One little fuzzy rat is cute, but showing a couple hundred of them scurrying about, especially in a kitchen gave me the willies.

Oh, and make sure you arrive early enough to catch the animated short film Lifted, which was hysterical!

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5
(Must-See)

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TAGS: 4 star movies

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  1. Yeah, the rats en-masse during the kitchen/finale sequence, but taking it in stride, even the animators acknowledge this through Collette’s initial reaction to the sight. In that moment, we share her perspective.

    I thought of it as Brad Bird’s little reminder to the audience just how much of a gap Remy had to cross to achieve his dreams. I remember hearing Bird say that they were treating the “ick” factor as a plus and weren’t going to shy away from it.

  2. Also, my thoughts on the rest of the movie are similar to yours. I would add that I loved the muli-layered themes. There wasn’t just one overarching theme, and while some were emphasized more than others, there were lots of statements being definitively made. Kids might not pick some of them up, but as long as their parents buy these on DVD, they’ll grow up, and watch the same movie while getting more out of it as they get older.

    It was also a pleasant notion that the most apparent “villain” turns out not to be one at all. Ego is a critic out of his deep love for the culinary arts, his only problem was that the constant exposure to food that lacked originality or “newness” led to his jaded attitude. His monologue at the end is an inspiration to artists and critics alike.

    I’m almost sad that Brad Bird’s next film is live action (though I’m intrigued what he might be able to accomplish in that medium) considering the yeoman’s work he’s put into each of his animated features. I’ve always hoped that he would become a regular on the circuit of Pixar directors instead of just the guy they call in from time to time.

  3. Glad you liked it. I understand why the box office wasnt bigger. The movie just doesnt look all that appealing when in fact it may be my 2nd favorite from Pixar. Hopefully the good word gets out as this film deserves to be seen. Shrek the Turd has nothing on Remy the rat.

  4. To be fair, if computer generated rats on screen can give you the willies, then Pixar has done a fabulous job…the fact that you are calling them rats and not just coloured pixels (which is all they ever were) speaks a lot about the skill that the designers and animators at Pixar have. I agree that the commercials for this movie did not do it justice and I recommend it to anyone who wants a good movie experience. I love that I couldn’t picture the the human faces voicing the characters…that’s a big plus for me.

  5. Jersey, great insights about the film! BTW, last I heard, the Brad Bird/live action film story was bogus.

    Scott, yeah, I did comment on the amazing animation. Pixar is incredible.

    Vic

  6. Really? IMDB still has his name attached to “1906″ about the “Big One” that rocked San Francisco in that year.

    I did a quick google search just now. Turned this up.

    http://jvpixarnews.blogspot.com/2007/06/brad-bird-reconfirms-that-he-is.html

    where he brings it up as his next project toward the end of the clip.

    Still, after listening to the video, I’m glad to hear him say he’s not leaving Pixar. (My greedy side wants to see him direct every Pixar movie, since he’s directed my two favorites of the studio’s bunch, but I figure the schedule for doing so would likely kill him ;)

  7. Alright! Bring on Incredibles 2!

  8. Jersey, I could of course be wrong. I can’t keep track of EVERY bit of movie news out there all by myself. :-)

    Vic

  9. LOVED this movie more than my 2 kids did!(a bit long for young children) Beautiful animation, great storyline, lovable characters. Made me want to go visit Paris right away. This is my favourite Disney/ Pixar movie next to Nemo. I will be buying this on dvd and watching it when my kids are in bed! Highly enjoyable!