Directed by: Brad Bird
Premise: An animated film about an unskilled cook (voice of Lou Romano) who joins with a rat (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who has a talent for cooking. The two attempt to bring new life to a Paris restaurant with exciting new dishes while concealing their relationship.
What Works: Ratatouille is a very well made animated picture. It allows its two main characters to go through their own struggles and overcome their own obstacles and yet intertwines their journeys in ways that are not contrived and make the success of one dependent on the other. The story of Remy, the culinary inclined rodent, details his relationship with his family and sets him up to reconcile his interests in cooking with the garbage diets of his father and brother. At the same time, Linguini must overcome his incompetence as a cook and attempt to win the heart of fellow cook Colette (voice of Janeane Garofalo). Both stories are well conceived and executed, and although they follow fairly predictable patterns, Ratatouille does include unique characters, well developed conflicts, and interpersonal relationships that keep the story engaging. One of the pleasant surprises in this film is the character of Anton Ego, a dining critic voiced by Peter O’Toole. The combination of animation and voice acting is some of the best ever seen in a computer animated piece and the character is threatening to our heroes despite a minimum amount of direct conflict with them.
What Doesn’t: Something that the animated genre has been particularly guilty of, and Ratatouille is no exception, is the reduction of female characters to plot devices. In this respect, Ratatouille is no guiltier than other pictures, but this film gives the opportunity to break the mold and Ratatouille doesn’t take it.
Bottom Line: Ratatouille does not reach the heights of Finding Nemo or Toy Story, but it is better than some other animated features like Shark Tale. The film is smart and funny and it will be enjoyed by those who liked the children’s book Ben and Me by Robert Lawson.
Episode: #149 (July 22, 2007)