Ratatouille Brad Bird

Ratatouille Brad Bird
After riding an all-time high after Bird’s last Pixar production, The Incredibles, we were presented with Cars, which was a rather mediocre attempt given the studio’s extremely high standards. John Lasseter’s obsession with muscle cars and Americana went off the road towards the dangerous territory of pop culture references and soft rock soundtracks.

This time around, Pixar has moved locations to Paris and assembled a cast of humans and rats instead of inanimate objects, giving so much warmth to this tale that you’ll wish Bird directed all of Pixar’s films.

Ratatouille starts off as what appears to be a film about a family of rats, with the lead being Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a rodent that desires more than rummaging through garbage for table scraps when it comes to cuisine. After being separated from his family while trying to steal the late Chef Gusteau’s cookbook from a shotgun-wielding grandmother, Remy finds himself surfacing from the sewers into Gusteau’s former five-star restaurant — he lost one star after a horrible review from a notorious food critic and one more for dying shortly thereafter.

While Remy sneaks around the awe-inspiring kitchen he observes young garbage boy Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano) accidentally destroying a fine soup after spilling the majority of it on the floor and trying to cover his tracks by tossing in whatever ingredients he can find. Remy is mortified and, having developed a fondness for Gusteau’s quality, proceeds to fix the soup while trying to escape certain death from various kitchen obstacles.

The soup ends up being a smashing success and Linguini is quickly given a job as a chef, as well as the job of disposing of Remy. When he discovers that Remy is actually a master chef in the making, Linguini instead employs him to guide his actions — as if he’s a puppet — through a series of hair pulls while keeping the talented rodent under his chef’s hat.

This is where the film starts to become incredibly engaging. The early bits of Remy and the rest of his rat friends are fine but once the humans are brought into the film Remy is silenced and communicates via his actions, which makes him adorable, especially when he makes mini-omelettes in the morning. This is also when Ratatouille becomes a buddy comedy, and the interactions between Linguini and Remy are often amusing.

The look of Ratatouille is nothing short of spectacular, as Pixar manages to once again give their film that classic look, which isn’t that difficult when your backdrop is France. A lot of the shots are taken from Remy’s point of view, either from the ground up or from the top of Linguini’s head, and this adds the subtle sensation of watching events unfold from a rat’s eye point of view.

Rodents aren’t exactly the easiest creatures to make heart-warming, and seeing swarms of them realistically animated with fine detail doesn’t help, but once the film zones in on Remy’s struggle to be accepted by humans, it’s hard not to feel the isolation he suffers from by being a rat in a kitchen, of all places. The relationship between Linguini and fellow chef Collette (voiced by Janeane Garofalo) is also a nice touch, and the fact that the film goes beyond its initial premise is something Pixar always does well.

It’s hard to say whether or not children will enjoy this film as much as Finding Nemo, because it’s incredibly sophisticated, at times, and there are loads of cooking terms thrown around. But even if Ratatouille doesn’t take off like past Pixar movies, at least they’re back on track and Brad Bird has solidified himself as an incredible talent. (Buena Vista)