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Ratatouille June 30, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.

God bless Brad Bird! The writer-director cooks up a delicious concoction from what seemed to be unsavory ingredients. The first time I saw the trailer I really didn’t want to watch an animated film about a French rodent who is also a master chef that helps a hapless young man who can’t cook to save his life. I should have warmed up to the novel premise but somehow I was wary of another talking animal movie expecting it to be filled with a lot of slapstick and a familiar formula. The Pixar name held promise but not enough to pull me to the theatres unless I saw positive reviews. But then I realised that this film was made by Brad Bird who had made my favorite animated feature so far, The Incredibles. And so I decided to watch the movie. The extremely positive reviews of the film raised the expectations further. The film managed to meet all my expectations and more.

Ideally I would suggest that one should watch it without any preconceived ideas but for those who are still interested in the plot, here is a summary. Remy (Patton Oswalt) belongs to an ordinary family of rats that lives mainly on garbage. However, Remy is different from the rest of his family and has a sensitive nose and a taste for good food. Though his father is happy to see him as a poison sniffer, Remy loves food and learns from his favorite Chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett) through his book and TV shows. Over the years, Gusteau has been popular for his restaurant and his motto is that anybody can cook (and as it turns out Remy certainly can). However, his popularity is on the wane and he dies soon after a particularly acerbic review from food critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) damages his reputation. In an unfortunate incident, Remy is separated from his family but ends up in the now dead Gusteau’s restaurant. There he averts disaster by helping a hapless young garbage boy, Linguini (Lou Romano) who tries his hand at cooking. The dish that Remy creates becomes an instant hit and Linguini gets the chance to be chef. Now both of them form a team but how long can they hide their secret? Can a rodent succeed in a kitchen where hygiene is of great importance? Can Gusteau’s restaurant regain its fame? How will Anton Ego react to the resurgence of Gusteau’s restaurant? What happens to Remy’s family? What exactly is Ratatouille?

The film has a lot of characters and many different threads but Bird integrates these seamlessly in the film. There is also the delightful Oscar nominated animated short “Lifted” by Gary Rydstrom that precedes the film. Though the film has many lovable sequences, the best part of the film for me was the monologue towards the end by the food critic. The choicest of words are used to make a pointed observation about critics. These thoughts mirror my own feelings on critics – not just those who do it for a living but all of us who criticize things from far away without really understanding the difficulty involved for the person in the middle of it all. That is not to say that one shouldn’t be critical but the criticism should be constructive and should accomodate recognition of the hard work of those being criticized before anything resembling a judgment is passed. It is easy to be critical of something that you can’t yourself do and don’t completely understand but then it is necessary sometimes.

Bird helps resuscitate my dying faith in animated features with this film. In recent times the genre was slowly slipping into one that catered largely to kids using recycled ideas (though Pixar hasn’t done so). But that needn’t have been the case. Bird once again shows how to make a picture that can appeal to both kids as well as adults. Like a subplot in the film, Bird shows that putting your heart into creating something almost always works better than creating a product that will sell. The writing has the wit, novelty and some superb dialogue, the direction has the imagination and inventiveness which together with the stunning animation and a capable voice cast make it a great package.

Three words. Don’t miss it!


1. Vikas - July 2, 2007

Hav read a lot abt this movie during the last couple of days..Can’t wait to see it in India.BTW Where did u watch this movie? It opened in U.S. friday last.Do u live in U.S.?

2. Sai - July 2, 2007

I do.

3. Santosh Nair - January 16, 2008

As rightly mentioned by Sai “God Bless Brad Bird”……I have not seen any movie in the recent past that amalgamates the concept,imgaination and innovativess to such a great extent……animation is superb,storyline excellent and you can just go on and on with the superlatives of best for the movie…..just watch the movie to get the real feel of it…a must watch movie for all…..i must say its amazing….three cheers for Brad Bird….

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