Reel Rewind – Ratatouille

Ratatouille (G)

Directed by: Brad Bird

Starring: Brad Garrett, Will Arnett, Ian Holm

Four stars

Review by Julian Wright


Disney’s Pixar studios have had their finger on the pulse of family entertainment since Toy Story became an instant classic in 1995. Their string of commercially and critically successful films has not been seen since the old Walt Disney classics from the 1930’s and 1940’s such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio (to name a couple of very many).

Dreamworks have tried to recreate the same cheeky, dramatic, visually stunning and just plain enjoyable films that Pixar have but always come in a close second. Pixar’s latest box office hit follows a young rat with a flare for cooking.

Remy is the black sheep of his feral rat family who steal food and eat scraps. Remy has an interest in cooking and food appreciation, which he doesn’t get much chance to indulge in when all his family eat are leftovers from the trash.

When he is separated from his family in a sewer, he finds himself in Paris, the home of Gusteau, the only restaurant to receive five stars. Unfortunately the head chef has died and the establishment has lost two stars. It has been taken over by Gusteau’s sous-chef, Skinner, who has sold out Gusteau’s image to sell microwavable food products.

The new garbage boy at the restaurant, Linguini, catches Remy creating a delicious soup that one food critic has the chance to taste and give a glowing review. Linguini is mistaken for making the soup, even though he has no talent in the kitchen, and so the two pair up to continue to create mouth-watering dishes. Meanwhile, Linguini falls in love with fiery chef Collette, who finds it hard working in a kitchen run by men.

This interesting film is Pixar’s strangest film to date but also its most complex. It is very hard to be fully engaged by a film that centres on a rat that can cook and explores the relationship between a man and that rat. Very strange, indeed. Oddly enough, I was more convinced of talking toys and monsters living in the closet.

But this animated film is one of the most emotionally and visually complex films you are likely to see. The scenery is gorgeous and the food looks delicious. The crew at Pixar have captured a nice French flavour with a bit if French farce thrown in and they have created a romantic atmosphere not seen in their previous films.

The emotion behind each character and their relationships with each other is also very potent. Remy’s struggle with his own identity and the subtext of that struggle is powerful and touching. If it weren’t for the head-scratching plot (Remy is also guided through the film by the spirit of a dead, grossly overweight chef), this could possibly have been Pixar’s masterpiece.

As appeared in Examiner Newspaper – 2007


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