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RATATOUILLE (2007)

November 14, 2007

Ratatouille review
Ratatouille

Matt: Four Stars
Tracy:Three and a half Stars

Length: 110min

Taglines:

Dinner is served… Summer 2007.
A comedy with great taste.
He’s dying to become a chef.
Everyone can cook!

Review by Matt:

The Pixar studio has a great record of producing delightful animated family films such as Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Incredibles. The latter won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2005 (which is no surprise – it was a truly gratifying romp) and its writer Brad Bird also wrote and directed Ratatouille. So expectations were pretty high for this film and, although Ratatouille isn’t my favourite Pixar creation, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

In Ratatouille, Remy is a rat with a special talent. Unlike his garbage-hungry family, Remy is a gourmand and a genius chef. He has been spying through windows at cooking shows and he’s learned to cook like a pro. When Remy and his family are chased from their idyllic country lodgings, Remy is miraculously washed up at the restaurant belonging to his lifelong idol, the late chef Gusteau. Before long Remy is embroiled in the action of the kitchen, secretly creating delights to impress the customers by hiding under the hat of the bumbling and talentless Linguini and manipulating him like a marionette. With Linguini’s body and Remy’s talents the pair are a winning team, and soon they’re adventuring to keep Linguini in employment, win the heart of the restaurant’s female chef, and impress the trenchant Anton Ego, a humorless and death-like food critic (voiced by Peter O’Toole).

Ratatouille is exquisitely made. The quality of feature animations these days has reached dizzying heights, and the Pixar studio is well in the lead (I don’t even want to think about Dreamworks’ recent effort, Shrek 3). Ratatouille is like the modern version of a perfect classical Hollywood-era film, constructed by a studio at the top of its game. The production is lavish and frankly incredible. The plot is the classic three act script – balance, calamity, restorative denouement – and it’s one that is sure to satisfy a wide range of viewers of all ages; although younger kids could possibly struggle with the near two-hour length.

Much of the film’s appeal rests in its captivating atmosphere. As a background, Paris is a living, breathing character, and the scenes where Remy programs Linguini to respond to his commands like a Pavolvian dog are goofily enchanting. There are also scenes of breath-taking animated action which, in my opinion, even top the thrills and possibilities of live action cinema. Nothing can control our gaze with the same flexibility as realistic animation. To top it off, the film is sweet. I found its key message – don’t discount anyone – rather uplifting. Rats have never looked better than in Ratatouille – both in appearance and personality. Even if you’re rat-a-phobic, there’s a good chance you can warm to little Remy.

I was thinking that I must be in a good mood recently. My usual cinema-cynicism seems to have dissolved, and I just had a lovely warm feeling while watching Ratatouille. That’s despite the fact that it is essentially a kids’ film with all the concepts, characters and colour that you find in scores of kids’ films. But it wasn’t just that I was in an accidentally sanguine mood. Ratatouille put me there because it is a smartly written, brilliantly animated, and charming film.

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One comment

  1. Hi Matt, Thanks for your Hellboy comment! Thought I would check out your site, there’s some great reviews on here. Keep it up! Must agree with you on Ratatouille. I’m glad that the people at Pixar are not afraid to write a nice feel-good story..the cynicism that pervaded some of the Dreamworks animation was just disheartening particularly when it came to Shrek 2…If you haven’t seen Wall E, it’s worth checking out too.



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