What do you get when you add an Oscar-winning writer, a pinch of Pixar’s amazing animation studio and a dash of Disney’s magic? You get a recipe for Ratatouille, not only the best animated film of the year, but one of the best films of the year so far.
People may be sick of the recent ambush of animated films filled with talking critters, but Ratatouille is completely different from all of those movies. It is not filled with shrill comments crammed with bad pop culture references and even worse jokes. Instead, this movie is gorgeous, not only externally but internally, too.
Ratatouille stars a rat named Remy (Patton Oswald), who is blessed with an unusually keen sense of smell and infatuated with great food. His family doesn’t understand his obsession with gourmet food and disapproves of his human ambitions.
After an unfortunate cooking accident, Remy is separated from his family and winds up in Paris. One evening Remy sneaks into an ex-legendary restaurant, Gusteau’s, and using his amazing sense of smell, cooks a delicious soup.
Simultaneously, a down-on-his-luck garbage boy, funnily enough named Linguini (Lou Romano), takes credit for Remy’s delicious, critically acclaimed soup. Linguini is then asked to start cooking for the restaurant. He enlists the help of Remy, so they have to learn to work with each other, avoid discovery and deal with all the pressures that threaten their unique partnership.
Among one of the threats is Anton Ego (Peter O’ Toole), a very judgmental and unsympathetic critic. Ego has already ruined the late chef Gusteau’s reputation. His office is strikingly in a shape of a coffin in order to signify morbid and lifeless emotions.
Visually, Ratatouille is dazzling and beautiful, like all of Pixar’s films. The fine grain of every image in the film is perfection. One can see the scratches on the pot and the fine details on each hair on Remy. Even Paris looks brilliantly crafted from the sewers to the rooftops.
Brad Bird comes back with another amazing screenplay after his Oscar-winning film The Incredibles. His ideas are always easy to grasp, yet stretch far beyond the typical animated film. He turns our perceptions of what we know about rats against us.
The film is also a smart commentary on society’s love affair with food and food-related programs. The majority of us, at one time or another, have watched the Food Network. Also, there is an onslaught of reality food shows appearing on TV, such as Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen.
Furthermore, Remy teaches us that we can strive to become something better than we are expected to be in life. Remy is a rat, but his dreams are bigger than he is. He does not let his handicap of being a rat get him down.
At the same time, Remy has to decide whether being a chef is more important than his unruly family, who do not care what they eat. The movie hints at the importance of family and the dreams you choose to pursue.
Ratatouille is packed with the best elements of story-writing to create a complex world. Ultimately, Ratatouille leaves viewers ready for seconds.