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Rats serve up a delicious helping of Pixar animated magic

Chris McGrady | Thursday, August 30, 2007

This summer was a silver tray covered with delectable films and flicks, and one of the main courses was the culinary-based “Ratatouille.” The Pixar film, released in June, was a box office smash hit, and rightfully so.

“Ratatouille,” named after a French dish, is a coming-of-age film that fully exemplifies the qualities that make Pixar creations so highly regarded. With a perfect blend of slapstick comedy, subtle adult humor, and a hefty dash of the “life-lessons” we have come to expect from so many animated movies, “Ratatouille” is a cinematic success story from the start.

The film follows the tale (or is it tail?) of Remy (Patton Oswalt), a rat with a passion for food that is unappreciated and unwanted by his peers. While his family feasts on garbage and other leftovers, Remy finds pleasure in stealing a bit of cheese from the cottage near his rat nest. Remy is not satisfied to have garbage as his main course, but seeks greater fare. Remy’s life goal is to become a chef, but his heritage (i.e. being a rat) prevents him from following his dreams. That is until a series of events leads to Remy finding himself in Paris, France, and he ends up in the kitchen of one of the most famous restaurants in the world. The story follows Remy’s secret ascent into chef-stardom, and the perils it entails.

Overall the film is one of Pixar’s best, and can easily be mentioned in the same breath as other Pixar classics. Pixar has in fact become so good at what they do, they are leaving the competitors in the dust. It seems these days, every Pixar film is good, and Ratatouille does not disappoint.

The animation is beyond great. Every detail of the French kitchen is accurate down to the last grain of salt. As Remy sprints through the scenes, the passing brilliance is breathtaking. The rats themselves are very well animated, and the animators do a knock-up job of making the rats’ personalities fit with their form.

Ratatouille is rated G and is a perfect film for the whole family. However, it features several different subplots that are woven together and the youngest audiences might have a difficult time following all the details. The film, while probably not Pixar’s best, is certainly a very good film indeed. Written by Brad Bird, the plot is beyond the usual fluff that can be found in so many summer movies. Rather, the dialogue is sharp and clever and keeps the film moving at fast pace. Despite some unrealistic holes in the plot (it is a cartoon after all) the films main story is most in the realm of reality – if you can overlook the talking rat issue.

The film, while made for children, will please even the most discerning of movie-goers, kids and adults alike. Overall, Ratatouille is one of the best of the summer and a film that will be a must-buy when it hits DVD.