Directed by: Brad Bird

Written by: Brad Bird

Starring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Janeane Garofalo, Brad Garrett, Peter O’Toole

Rating: [5/5]

Contradictions make for intriguing plots when it comes to telling stories as it puts together two things that should not mesh and manage to make a meaningful connection. Having a rat operate as a chef certainly stands as a major one, especially because of the connotations involved, which falls in line with exactly what Pixar loves to craft. With Ratatouille, not only do they make the contradiction work, but thread it with an incredibly touching story about finding one’s place and not letting stereotypes get in the way of one’s passion. 

Even as a rat, Remy (Patton Oswalt) has a love for food others simply cannot understand. He owns taste buds allowing him to experience food and appreciate everything it provides other than just the necessary fuel to live. When he finds himself in Paris, he gets the opportunity to show it off as he teams up with a hapless garbage boy named Linguini (Lou Romano) to become an incredible cooking duo. 

The idea of a rat in the kitchen would make anyone spine’s tingle for good reasons as these animals tend to carry parasites and other disease-bearing bacteria with them. It only makes sense Pixar would utilize these hated creatures to tell a beautifully heartwarming tale and manages to do it so well. Not only does this contradiction make for a film with plenty of entertainment but something so meaningful in how it speaks about food and the power it holds. Remy carries this infectious (get it?) passion for food everyone should have about something in their lives. 

When Remy explains to his brother the majesty of pairing a strawberry with cheese initially separately and then together to create a whole new combination of flavors, it shows the magic of how this film operates in its imaginativeness. This becomes even more prevalent when they get into the kitchen of the famous Gusteau restaurant. The film manages to explain what makes good bread and the mad rush of working in a restaurant of fine dining. It all happens so seamlessly throughout the feature introducing an entire world of amateur chefs behind the scenes of individuals doing this for a living at the highest level. Everything occurring in these scenes seeks to bolster our appreciation for food and the makers behind it even if he happens to be a rat. 

Pairing together Linguini and Remy makes a combination of a fantastic chef. Remy provides the knowledge and actual cooking ability while Linguini exists as a human and cooks without others feeling queasy about the cleanliness of the product. The way they collaborate without question makes no sense in how it works to an absurd degree where you simply have to go for it but it allows for a sensational bonding of these two as they get to carry out something they both love with each being a contributor towards their shared success. This film certainly shows the difficulty involved with their process and it provides many entertaining scenes where Remy needs to control Linguini in some humorous situations. 

Serving as the theme of this feature, the famous line of Gusteau and the one reiterated on multiple occasions throughout the feature is “Anyone can cook.” This saying comes with a power in how it exists as an interpretation of how any human can operate as a chef in their own kitchen, but what it means to Remy as a rat along with his relationship with his father. The mantra at the center of this feature puts Remy in a place where he wants to demand more of life than what genuinely exists for a rat. One where he can live the life of an artist and create rather than just take. He wants to live in a world where he can contribute and enjoy something for what it adds to his life and others rather than simply for its utility. This struggle and tussle Remy has some familiarity for many in their pursuits for something different than what they seemingly were predetermined to be but in this instance we see it for a rat who simply wants to cook. 

With much of the philosophy and themes of this film bringing so much quality, the way this feature gets shot should definitely receive recognition. Not only does the animation dazzle with the detail of these rats and the accentuations of the human characters, but the film creates some impeccably crafted sequences. The one depicting Remy’s first time in Gustaeu’s restaurant alone combines a comedy of errors with some genuinely frightening circumstances for Remy as a rat. Not only does he need to stay out of sight but he also needs to escape all of the obstacles put in his way. We see this experience at the eye level of Remy thus showing the dangers of being a rat during these innocuous actions by these chefs in a kitchen. A blisteringly etched-together sequence adds some high-flying elements to an already rich film. 

Existing during the true peak of Pixar as a studio, Ratatouille stands out in what Pixar typically attempts to accomplish in making you cry until the ducts run dry. Immediately followed by emotionally damaging films like WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3, this feature stands out and at times gets penalized by others for not having the emotional gut punch to truly feel the emotions of what transpires during the plot. The light-felt nature of the feature as a whole does bear some differences but what it manages to package as a whole and especially with the antagonist of the feature really digs at something emotionally profound about the power of food. Sure, you won’t cry into your popcorn watching this film, but it still packs an incredible punch. 

Endlessly enjoyable and superbly put together Ratatouille remains one of the very best features ever crafted by Pixar. A narrative filled to the brim with passion and love for what individuals dream of doing in their lives. It shows a true artist in the form of a rat trying to share his ability even if the world will not accept it from him. Certainly one of those films kids will enjoy for the surface-level entertainment and adults can connect with on a deeply emotional level, which has always been Pixar’s strong suit. They certainly did not miss with this one and at times, this feature teeters with occupying the top spot of the many brilliant animated films released by this studio.

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