Written and Directed By: Jan Pinkava and Brad Bird
Staring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Peter O’Toole, Janeane Garofalo, Peter Sohn, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garrett, Will Arnett, James Remar, and John Ratzenberger
I don’t LIKE food. I LOVE it. If I don’t love it, I don’t SWALLOW. -Anton Ego
There is a certain magic that old Disney movies like Bambi, Snow White, Sword In the Stone, and even The Little Mermaid had that seem to be lacking today. It’s a whole heartiness combined with a childlike curiosity. While Ratatouille is a Disney/Pixar manifestation it had that feel of old movie heart and magic. Leaving the detailed animation aside for a moment, the story itself, and the character Remy, plus his supporting cast had such a palpable, likability. It was a completely infectious feeling that you never wanted to end. The enthusiasm of Remy and Linguini often bordered on cheesiness but never crossed the line. Quite frankly I’ve rarely felt so pleased watching a movie. I simply sat and enjoyed it.
Remy is a rat, who lives in the rural community of an attic of an old lady. His acute sense of taste and smell makes him different from his clan as he doesn’t like to steal or eat the garbage the rest of the rats are satisfied with. His father is the leader and is disappointed in Remy’s uniqueness until he finds a suitable use for it and suddenly Remy becomes the rat poison detector. Unsatisfied in his station Remy begins to wander even further away from his kind, until he finds himself in the old lady’s kitchen attempting to make a meal when he catches a commercial about a chef who has written the cook book, “Anyone can cook”. Remy is inspired and begins to make his own meal but it becomes too late when the woman has spotted him and discover the entire pack of rats who make a run for it. Remy is separated and finds himself alone in sewers somewhere underneath the city of Paris. Hallucinations of Chef Gusteau tell Remy to run to the surface and “create” his own food. Remy finds himself at Gusteau’s restaurant adding his own ingredients to a bus boy’s soup. The soup is a sensation and when the boy is asked to repeat the miracle again, he and Remy team up for an adventure of love, creation, and inspiration!
The details of the characters and build up of their choices leading them to their desires and dreams was sometimes obvious and sometimes not, but a constant ongoing journey throughout. When Remy has to choose between which tunnel to go down, it suddenly sparked the memory of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. While Remy chose his path unconsciously, the allusion to it was there, and he began a journey very different from those “like” him.
The animation was some of the most detailed and fantastical I have ever seen. From the eyes of Remy we see the luxurious city of Paris from the sewers bellow to the Eiffel tower above. The colors are inviting, and down to the smallest detail every spoon and piece of food looks delectable. Simply, the animator’s outdid themselves this time around.
Ratatouille won the Oscar for the best animated film of 2007, but I will take it a step further and say it was one of the best animated films of the decade. It made you laugh, feel remorse, cry, smile, and it even gave you hope. Ratatouille represented all the ideals that Pixar exemplify best. Dreams can come true, and this film visualized that amazing ideal.
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