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Ratatouille (2007).

July 14, 2009

The Scoop:
Food lovers will find a lot to like in “Ratatouille,” Brad Bird’s second feature for Pixar.

The film takes us inside the gourmet kitchens of Paris as Remy (Patton Oswalt), a culinarily gifted rat, helps nervous apprentice chef Linguini (Lou Romano) move up in the world of high cuisine, woo fellow chef Colette (Janeane Garofalo), please the notorious food critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) and stay one step ahead of his conniving boss Skinner (Ian Holm).

The world of the busy kitchen is lovingly recreated, with plenty of attention paid to the preparation of the ingredients, culinary aesthetics and the simple joys of cooking. This is a top-notch Pixar production in other ways too, particularly in the character design, the excellent voice performances and a couple of bravura chase sequences.

Where “Ratatouille” stumbles, however, is in its predictable, cliched story. The plot doesn’t offer any surprises. This may not be entirely the fault of Bird, who took over the project from original writer/director Jan Pinkava midway through. But it still amounts to possibly the weakest story in the Pixar repertoire.

That’s not a reason to avoid “Ratatouille” but unless you’re enamored with the world of gourmet cuisine, you might not be revisiting it very often.

Best Line:
“I defrauded a major corporation. I robbed the second largest bank in France using only a ballpoint pen. I created a hole in the ozone layer over Avignon. I killed a man — with this thumb.”

Side Note:
The shop with the dead rats in the window is an actual exterminator’s shop in Paris called Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles, which has been in business since 1872.

Companion Viewing:
“The Tale of Despereaux” (2008).

Official site.
Fan site.
A recipe for ratatouille from Cooking for Engineers.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

Anton Ego will eat you alive. But he won’t swallow.

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