Ratatouille: More Fun Than a Barrel of… RatsJuly 17th, 2007 by Michael Kwan
As I walked into the movie theatre on Saturday evening, I had very little in terms of expectations for Ratatouille, the first animated feature to be released under the dual Disney-Pixar banner. I thought it was just going to be another kids cartoon with some random sight gags, a very loose plotline, and not much else. After all, there have been a lot of these kinds of movies in the last few years and most of them have been mediocre at best. Ratatouille, however, was a very pleasant surprise. It was intelligent, it was well-written, and it actually captured my interest for the entirety of its 110 minute running time (unlike Shrek the Third). Yes, this movie is nearly two hours long, which is a fair bit lengthier than the usual animated fare.
The trailer was less than inspiring, but this movie is so much more than what the teaser reveals. The plot development was great, leading us through the trials and tribulations of Remy, a rat that wants to do more with his life than just eat garbage. He has a tendency to walk on two legs instead of four, he enjoys reading, and most importantly of all, he has an appreciation (and a nose) for fine dining. He eventually gets separated from the rest of the colony and has to fend for himself. Finding himself in the middle of Paris, he stumbles into a French kitchen and, well, the rest is history. The relationships between the characters — both human and rodential — are developed very well, and you don’t feel like you’re just watching cardboard cut-outs… so to speak.
The 3D animation was fantastic, and the choice of “camera angles” during the chase scenes was very well executed. You really got a sense of speed and movement. I found the semi-glossy faces on the human characters to be a little strange, but it never took away from the visual appeal of this movie. The voice work was also quite good, despite the fact that there were no huge Hollywood stars doing the dialog. Instead, we get guys like Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, and John Ratzenberger. In fact, the main characters — Remy the rat and Alfredo Linguini — are voiced by Patton Oswalt and Lou Romano, respectively. And no, Lou is not related to Ray (as far as I know).
The comedy was also fantastic as it encompassed both sight gags and well-written conversations. The sharp contrast between Remy and his older brother Emile (who will eat anything), for example, is great. And let’s face it, a rat as a chef is just pretty funny in and of itself. There’s enough comedy in there for older audiences, but there are also simpler jokes for younger kids to enjoy as well. Everyone in the auditorium couldn’t stop laughing, regardless of whether they were 6, 26 or 60.
One area that was particularly impressive and may not necessarily get noticed is sound editing. The sound effects were absolutely amazing and the one scene where this truly shines is when Remy gets washed down the sewer. The roaring waters sent tremors down my spine and it was great.
Movies like Transformers and Harry Potter may be receiving the bulk of the media attention these days, but don’t let this little animated gem fly under the radar for you. I have a thoroughly good time watching Ratatouille and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh. On a side note, the alien abduction-themed animated short that precedes the main feature is also very amusing, despite having no dialog whatsoever.
Go watch Ratatouille. You won’t regret it.
4.5 stars out of 5
Filed under Arts and Entertainment.