Ratatouille has it all: a smart script, beautiful animation, a great cast, and of course, a teriffic director in Brad Bird. The story’s a little unconventional: a food-loving rat and an inept dishwasher team up to become the greatest culinary sensation in Paris. Hijinks ensue. Yes, a rat in a kitchen – not your typical warm Disney fare. But the unconventionality’s part of what makes it work. Eschewing the stupid “all ages” jokes nauseatingly sappy “you just have to believe in yourself and anything’s possible” self-esteem message, it is fresh, funny, and uplifting.
The script’s full of great jokes, but it takes a great cast to make them sparkle. And what a cast! Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett, Brad Garrett, Brian Dennehy, Ian Holm, and Peter O’Toole (!) put in teriffic performances. But it’s the two leads, Lou Romano (as the dishwasher Linguini) and Patton Oswalt (as Remy the rat), that carry the bulk of the show. And they’re great. I’m biased, considering my love for Patton Oswalt, but still: you don’t need to love him to love the movie, as my fiancée will attest (she can’t stand him!).
The animation’s just gorgeous. The kitchen set alone is unbelievably detailed, and the characters strike the right note between being realistic and cartoonish. I was almost breathless watching some of the effects; I loved the scenes where Remy runs through the digital environments, and the rain scenes were almost flawless. Pixar’s set a new standard in this one.
The opening short, Lifted, was just perfect. Light and full of physical humour, it set just the right tone for the feature. I am confident that one day Ratatouille will have a proud place on my dvd shelf. Easy for even a cynical 28-year-old guy to love. Highly recommended!