One of the major themes of Ratatouille is that anyone can cook. But watching the movie, it’s almost as if Disney and Pixar are saying, “Yeah, but not just anyone can make a good animated film.” And they’re right. There’s a reason those companies are the gold standard for animation. While films like Surf’s Up may be fun, they’re not as sophisticated as a Pixar movie. And Ratatouille ranks up there with their best.
The film tells the story of Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a rat with a taste for good food and an uncanny ability to cook. Remy teams up with a young kid in a fancy restaurant and together, the two cook up some great dishes — which, of course, frustrates the head chef. Told with visual flair and featuring some great action-packed scenes, just like Brad Bird’s last Pixar film, The Incredibles, Ratatouille is not really a movie for kids. In fact, I’m sure they’ll be totally bored by it. That’s because the film really does focus on high-end food and doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. It almost never takes the easy way to a laugh (although, a food critic with the last name Ego does seem a little obvious), and focuses as much on character and plot as it does on awesome animation. And yes, Paris does look great. But more impressive are the scene where Remy is sent down the sewers into Paris and the ones where he’s running through the kitchen. Also worth noting are the voice talent, which includes Brad Garrett and Peter O’Toole, and the score by Michael Giacchino (Lost, The Incredibles). And please stay through the credits for the final, stylized animation sequence. That is, if you’re not too hungry.
After last summer’s Cars, which I didn’t love, I thought maybe I had outgrown the Pixar films. Thankfully, that one was just a minor detour. In the right hands, they can still be magic. And that’s surely what Ratatouille is. I’m giving it an A–.
(p.s. As a testament to just how much Pixar films are beloved, when the trailer for their next release, Wall-E, came on, the place went absolutely silent. For a trailer.)