Ratatouille (2007)

Typically in the opening paragraph of a review I would tell you a bit of background about the film about to be reviewed in this case, Pixars latest computer animated film, Ratatouille. The truth of the matter is, I saw Ratatouille with my kid because the 7pm showing of Transformers was sold out, and the 8pm show would have not only put the boy up over an hour past his bedtime, but surely would have led to nightmares about his clock radio trying to kill him. And so, with that in mind, I present to you a review of Pixars latest computer animated film, Ratatouille!

Ratatouille stars Remy, a rat who wants more than the typical life he seems destined to lead. Remys not interested in eating compost, stealing, or walking on all fours. In fact, what Remy is really interested in is cooking. His dream comes true, when he is separated from the rest of his pack and ends up living underneath Gusteaus, a fancy restaurant located in Paris. After discovering that Remy can cook, he is befriended by Linguini, the restaurants garbage boy. After working out a system that allows Remy to physically guide Linguini, the two of them tackle the world of fine dining by storm.

Standing in Linguinis way is Skinner, Gusteaus head chef. Skinner is determined to get to the bottom of Linguinis mysterious kitchen skills, and suspects (forgive me) theres a rat in the kitchen. More suspicion is aroused as Skinner begins to suspect Linguini is there to take over the restaurant.

Before discussing the plot, let me say that Pixar has once again raised the bar for computer animated films. The animation quality, particularly of the backgrounds and the way the characters interact with them, is phenomenal. While neither the humans nor the rats are portrayed in a realistic manner, the way in which they operate within the given environment is amazing.

The plot flows pretty well, overall. Its not particularly deep, but then again consider the audience. Gone are the dozens of in-jokes and adult references for the older audience as found in the Shrek movies. This makes following the storyline a little more forward for junior and a little more boring for dad. There are multiple characters (particularly the kitchen staff) whose names are only mentioned in passing, making it difficult to refer to by name; still, each one is rendered so differently that its never confusing. The bad guys appear scary, the good guys look friendly, and so on.

The story itself gets a little sappy and the ideals presented are oversimplified, but again thats what kids movies are all about. My only real complaint about the film was, upon leaving, my son told me he wants a pet rat for his birthday. Rat-a-noway.

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