Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
"...charming, beautifully illustrated, well-voiced and entertaining ... Vive La Ratatouille!"
Beginning with Toy Story and moving on through A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc. (my personal favorite), Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, last summer’s Cars, and this summer’s blockbuster Ratatouille, the production team at Disney Pixar has steadily built a solid reputation as the best computer animation outfit in the business. And fortunately for movie goers, they have not concentrated solely on technical perfection but have also consistently developed strong story lines and likable characters. Ratatouille is no exception to Disney Pixar’s formula. It’s charming, beautifully illustrated, well-voiced and entertaining. The most stunning aspect of the film is the digital artwork, amazingly detailed and brilliantly colored. The artwork alone is reason enough to see this film on the big screen, but fortunately, Director Brad Bird has the given the viewer much more in this film than just pretty pictures.
Ratatouille is the story of Remy, a country rat with an inclination towards creating fine cuisine, and how his life intersects with that of an insecure, awkward young man named Alfredo Linguini. Remy, because of a tragic separation from his family, has ended up in Paris at the famed five star restaurant, Gusteau’s. Linguini has ended up at Gusteau’s at the request of his deceased mother, who begged a favor from the head chef by asking that Linguini be given a job as the kitchen boy. Through a series of humorous events, Remy and Linguini become unlikely partners the first night Linguini is hired. Remy is able to “cook” by deftly controlling Linguini’s movements through hair pulling, and as a result, Linguini becomes a rising star in the culinary world. Remy and Linguini discover that they need each other, Linguini to protect the life of the rat-turned-chef, and Remy to protect the secret of Linguini’s “success” in the kitchen. These two are living double lives, so to speak, and much has to be hidden from co-workers (I mean, seriously, what is one to do with a RAT in the kitchen?) The majority of the humor in the film is rooted in the fact that neither Remy nor Linguini can tell their secret to anyone and must work hard to keep Skinner, the head chef, from finding out the truth. The audience knows the secret the entire time, and tension is built when we watch the villainous Skinner slowly begin to unravel the mystery of Linguini’s talent.
High notes in the film are the voice acting work of Janeane Garafolo (Collette) and Brad Garret as the warm and ever encouraging Gusteau. There cannot be enough positive comments made about the breathtaking computer artwork we are treated to throughout the film. This isn’t just a visual treat, it’s a feast, and the film is incredibly well-crafted. For me personally, the best part of the film is Peter O’Toole’s (Anton Ego) eloquent monologue that closes the story. It is arguably one of the most well written monologues in modern cinema.
Although the plot is a tad bit predictable, the charm and wit of the film are enough to make us stop wishing for some fantastic plot twist in the end. The story line is simple, and we see accurate consequences come as the result of some bad choices made on the part of both of our heroes. The over-riding theme is that one is to pursue his calling, even if one seems to be the least likely person qualified to do what he is called to do. Another positive message is that the needs of others ultimately are more important than our own and sacrificing for someone else can be highly rewarding. Probably the most beautifully communicated message is that our pre-conceived notions about people (or rats) can sometimes be wrong. Because these themes are based in truth, parents can use this story to help teach their children some valuable lessons.
Parents will want to be warned ahead of time that there are some concepts that may need to be explained after seeing the movie with younger children. The issue of Linguini’s unknown paternity is a major element used to build conflict in the film. Also in one scene Chef Skinner plies young Linguini with wine in an effort to learn the truth about Linguini’s culinary skills. However, there are life lessons to be learned even within these scenes, and wise parents will use the concepts presented as a platform for great discussion.
Ratatouille is a pleasant film that flows along smoothly and tells a charming story. I would recommend this film for children between the ages of seven and twelve, but adults of all ages will enjoy the movie with or without the company of children. Vive La Ratatouille!
MPAA Rating: G
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Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com