From Academy Award-winning director Brad Bird and the amazing storytellers at Pixar Animation Studios comes Ratatouille, the most original comedy of the summer about one of the most unlikely friendship's imaginable. The film's protagonist is a rat named Remy who dares to dream the impossible dream of becoming a gourmet chef in a five-star French restaurant. Together with a down-and-out garbage boy named Linguini, the pair carves their own imaginative path to becoming the greatest chef in Paris.... (from MovieWeb.com)
If there's one movie studio we can count on for a great film, it's Pixar. From the get-go with Toy Story twelve years ago, the studio has released some of the best animated films of our time, including The Incredibles, Toy Story 2, and Finding Nemo. Incredibles director Brad Bird is given his second go in the writer/director's chair for a Pixar film with this summer's Ratatouille, an original story about a rat in Paris who has the aspirations of becoming a great chef. While it may seem like an impossible task for Bird to top his previous directorial outing, Ratatouille not only comes close, but it is easily one of the best Pixar films yet, and easily the best animated film thus far this year.
Ratatouille may be the most mature in nature of all of the Pixar films. Basing the entire film around culinary arts, Ratatouille takes viewers into the restaurant business in France, colliding it with the world of sewer rats. And while the premise may seem a little far-fetched for older audiences or potentially boring for younger viewers, Ratatouille has an involved, well-written story with vibrant characters that will likely land the film with an instant classic status. While the story and characters are the film's clinchers for its success, the most memorable part about it is its truly breathtaking animation. As a fan of animation in general (with the exception of anime and most flat, poorly developed TV programs these days), it was just as entertaining to follow the story and characters as it was to watch Remy race through the Gusteau restaurant kitchen through a rat's-eye view, and admire the immense detail in a single torn piece of bread. I'm not sure another animated film can come close in detail and sheer beauty. Ratatouille has such a class and elegance to it, that as its characters marvel the wonder of Paris, we can share the same awe and wonder at the visuals unfolding before our very eyes.
I was a little surprised that a more well-known voice cast wasn't chosen, but the absence of big names did help give a unique identity to the characters. Instead of thinking about the actor voicing the character, I could focus more on the character itself. Comedian Patton Oswalt brought a great realism and human quality to the central rat character of Remy, while Lou Romano injected the perfect amount of youthful awkwardness into Linguini. Everybody Loves Raymond star Brad Garrett is almost unrecognizable as French chef Gusteau, and Peter O'Toole brings just the right amount of life and intensity to food critic Ego.
The G rating seemed low considering some of the things that surprised me about the film. I thought a sequence where an old woman shoots a shotgun at the rats, and later a scene where we see a group of dead rats hanging in a store window seemed a little violent for G. Also, some passionate kissing, a brief glimpse of an artist's room of most likely nude art (foreground objects obstruct anything explicit), and a strange but humorous moment where a pair of quarreling lovers (with a gun?!) kiss and make up are also present. None of these moments are especially offensive or vulgar, but I just was surprised to find these slightly edgier pieces of material sprinkled into a G-rated Pixar feature. The opening cartoon, Lifted, is a wonderful little new take on alien abduction, but also includes quite a bit of more Looney Tunes-esque slapstick violence that surprised me. As a whole, however, Ratatouille is still a fine family film - one parents will enjoy just as much as their children (if not more).
Ratatouille is the kind of family film that makes the more dumbed-down live action comedy trend in Hollywood seem all the more insulting and, well, unacceptable for viewers. Ratatouille also features a great message for chasing your dreams despite the odds being stacked against you, as well as the importance of friendship, family, and even servanthood. The messages aren't preachy, and when all is said and done, Ratatouille is just one immensely enjoyable animated experience. Chalk another one up in Pixar's favor. Let's hope this studio never loses sight of what it takes to make a great movie - even if their parent company, that they've more recently officially become a part of, has lost their way. So in a sea of summer sequels or cheesy kid films, Ratatouille is a savory distraction from it all. ~ Served best with a bag of popcorn and a friend or loved one to share it with!- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/2/07)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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