• 2007-08-08
  • By Tim Osher
Just as I was starting to grow seriously tired of the recent glut of CGI animation movies, Pixar serves up the exquisite and quite brilliant "Ratatouille." It's a fantastically entertaining film whose verve, wit and warmth are a joy from start to finish. 

The story follows the plight of Remy, a rat with an unusual penchant for haute cuisine and humans. Remy lives with his sizeable colony of fellow rats somewhere in rural France where they eke out a living by scavenging through garbage. But after being chased by a rodent-hating old woman, Remy gets swept away in the sewers and washes up in Paris. More precisely, he washes up right beneath the restaurant of his hero, the recently deceased chef Gusteau. It was Gusteau's motto "Anyone can cook" that helped inspire Remy to pursue his love of good food. 

There are so many wonderful twists and turns to the story that it would be impossible to touch on all of them but the central element of the film is the bizarre relationship that Remy strikes up with a dim-witted kitchen hand called Linguini. Linguini gets promoted to chef after taking the credit for an amazing soup made by Remy. Remy then does all the cooking by hiding in Linguini's hat and controlling his body movements by tugging on his ginger hair like a skilled puppeteer. The restaurant's reputation is revived thanks to Remy's marvelous creations but the envious and suspicious head chef is determined to rat Linguini out after learning that the young man is the unknowing heir to the restaurant. 

"Ratatouille" certainly has all the predictable moral lessons one has come to expect from modern-day animation movies but it's a lot less heavy on the sentimentality than some of its predecessors. Moreover, it's also brilliantly funny. The breathtaking finale is a comedic masterpiece that will have you gasping at its ingenuity. And the scene in which the malicious critic Anton Ego is served with a dish of Ratatouille is probably the most touching scene I have seen since the creation of CGI animation. It's simply inspired. 
"Ratatouille" is about as charming a film as you could wish for and, unlike the clunky and contrived "Cars," it has real warmth and depth to it. Remy's endlessly elaborate facial expressions, in particular, are a wonder to behold and are bettered only by the sublimely subtle expressions of Nick Park's Gromit. 


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