Who would have thought an animated movie about a rat who can cook would turn out to be such a gourmet feastnot only for the eyes but for the soul? Ratatouille is a Pixar tour de force.
Then again, Ratatouille does come from Brad Bird, the creator of The Incredibles, so you know you are in for something good. Meet Remy (Patton Oswalt), a rat who dares to dream the impossible dream of becoming a gourmet chef. All his life, Remy has had a gifted sense of smell. While his family rummages through the garbage for scraps, Remy only goes for the good stuff, stealing directly from the kitchen. For instance, a piece of brie, combined with a fresh berry is just heaven for Remy. Then circumstances literally drop Remy into the Parisian restaurant of his dreams, Gusteau's, where he soon discovers having whiskers and a tail is detrimental to cooking five-star meals. So close and yet so far away. But as luck would have it, the petite rodent befriends the restaurant's shy, outcast garbage boy Linguini (Lou Romano), and together they form a most improbable partnership. With Linguini's clumsy body channeling Remy's creative brains, they turn Paris upside down. Vive Remy!
Ratatouille doesn't have any showboating animated characters in need of A-list voices to bring them to life. Instead, the vocal talent all take a backseat to the story, and it works out perfectly. Stand-up comedian Oswalt (TV's The King of Queens) taps into a rodent frame of mind and gives Remy a nice mix of intelligence, spunk and food savvy, while voiceover veteran Romanoo is effectively goofy and sweet as Linguini. There's a slew of other more well-known voices as well, including: Ian Holm as the domineering, slightly sadistic, short-in-stature chef Skinner at Gusteau's; Janeane Garofalo as Collette, the only female in the kitchen, who at first resents Linguini but then grows to love him (mais oui!); Brad Garrett as the late great chef Auguste Gusteau, Remy's mentor whose spirit resurfaces in Remy's imagination; and finally Peter O'Tooleyes, THE Peter O'Tooleas the pompous food critic Ego who hates everything he eats. Well, that is until he samples Remy's cuisine.
What can I say? Helmed by the ultra-talented Brad Bird, Ratatouille is simply a masterpiece in animation, which is quite a compliment in this day and age of the CGI glut. Reaching the standard they set with Toy Story, Pixar has never stopped churning out the highest quality CGI you'll ever see onscreen, unsurpassed by any of their competition. Ratatouille's attention to detail is nothing less than amazing, down to Remy's rapid breathing when he's frightened, just as if we are watching a real rat, to the way Bird and his crew turn the City of Lights into a truly mesmerizing sight. And for those who love to cookor eat good food, for that matterforget about it! Ratatouille is the delicacy you've been waiting for, on par with expert cooking movies such as Like Water for Chocolate or Babette's Feast. Pixar clearly has defined the way we watch animation, creating films that are not only entertaining for the children but just as hilarious, compelling and heartfelt as any live action film. Now, if only the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can just get off their high horse and consider an animated film worthy of a Best Picture Oscar. Ratatouille might just have a chance.
Hollywood.com rated this film 4 stars.