Stupid Frenchie, if he showered regularly, there wouldn’t be a rat in his hair.

Golden Mug

Best Animated Film

Theatrical Release Date: 06/29/2007
Director: Brad Bird
Featuring the Voices of: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Peter O’Toole,Lou Romano, Janeane Garofalo, Brad Garrett, Peter Sohn

I must admit, I did not have high hopes for this film. I have found most of the recent animated films I have seen to be only OK. I’m not naming names because it would honestly take me a minute to even remember any of them.

So I only went to this one in theaters because my two young nephews were in town and I needed something relatively peaceful and low-key to do with them. I expected them to love it, and myself to be vaguely amused.

What I didn’t expect was to genuinely like it.

In case you don’t know, Ratatouille is the story of a young rat named Remy (Oswalt) that is a bit different from the rest of his family. While Remy’s brother Emile (Sohn) and father Django (Dennehy) are happy to eat garbage, Remy’s hypersensitive sense of smell leads him down a different path- towards an appreciation for eating and creating fine cuisine.

After getting lost, he finds his way to Gusteau’s, a restaurant once owned by a great French chef. After Gusteau’s death, his sous chef Skinner (Holm) took the place over and is running it into the ground. Remy joins forces with Linguini (Romano), the new garbage boy, and together they begin to revitalize the restaurant.

First off, I have to say don’t believe the hype, positive or negative. It is not the best animated film on the face of the planet, but it is also not at all bad.

The vocal performances are great. The accomplished but not mega-superstar cast manages to create believable, nuanced characters while not being distracting. I recognized some of the voices, but didn’t spend the whole time obsessing over what actor was portraying what character.

In addition to the previously mentioned roles, Peter O’Toole portrays a fabulously sinister critic, Garafolo does a good job as Linguini’s French mentor/ love interest Colette, and Garrett is sweet as Gusteau’s ghost, who guides Remy on his quest to be a chef.

The animation is good- Pixar seldom goes wrong, and this is no exception. The animated characters really deliver the emotion and hilarity that the actors have worked so hard to create.

Pixar’s Paris is dreamy and vast, a place that seems both magical and completely overwhelming. Other than the accents, landmarks, and emphasis on food, it could be any big, bustling, picturesque European city. The locale could easily overwhelm the plot, but instead it provides a beautiful backdrop for Remy and Linguini’s adventures.

Ratatouille is a sweet story about relationships and tolerance. It is not a hilarious sight gag sort of film – I was hard-pressed to quickly and quietly explain “Touché” to my quizzical nephew. Instead, it deals with themes that both children and adults can relate to. As the plot unfolded, I found myself genuinely cheering Remy and Linguini on. Due to the surprising complexity of the plot (lots of twists and peripheral characters), the relatively long run time (110 minutes) went by quickly.

After the movie was over, I asked my five year old nephew if he liked it. He very seriously nodded his head, and I agreed with him. If you like children’s films, have children, or just like a good, sweet story, Ratatouille is a good film for you. I give it a 4 out of 5, and recommend it highly to all parents as an alternative to a 100th viewing of “Ice Age”.