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Written by Funn Lim


"A masterpiece and to me perfection."


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SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS


Year Released
2007

Genre
3D animation, 100% guaranteed by Pixar themselves.

Reminder
This review is on the English/US version.

Cast-Character
Taken from IMDB.com

Patton Oswalt ... Remy
Ian Holm ... Skinner
Lou Romano ... Linguini
Brian Dennehy ... Django
Peter Sohn ... Emile
Peter O'Toole ... Anton Ego
Brad Garrett ... Gusteau
Janeane Garofalo ... Colette
Will Arnett ... Horst
Julius Callahan ... Lalo/Francois
James Remar ... Larousse
John Ratzenberger ... Mustafa
Teddy Newton ... Lawyer (Talon Labarthe)
Tony Fucile ... Pompidou/Health Inspecto
Jake Steinfeld ... Git (Lab Rat)

Summary
Taken from IMDB.com

Remy is a young rat in the French countryside who arrives in Paris, only to find out that his cooking idol, Gusteau is dead after a scatching review by the feared reviewer, Anton Ego who took offense with Gusteau's motto, "Anyone can cook". When he makes an unusual alliance with a restaurant's new garbage boy, Linguini who did not have the culinary gift but has a good heart, Remy defies all odds to become a cook despite the hatred of his species in teh kitchen world and the scepticism of his rat father against the humans who kill them mercilessly.

Comments
There may be disputes as to whether Bugs, Monsters Inc and the recent Cars were good enough to be called Pixar productions, the truth is I love all of Pixars' previous efforts, including those dissed by many. I love the colours of Bugs, the humour and touching scenes in Monsters Inc and the sheer imginativeness of Cars. Any Pixar flick, whether good or those they say very bad is still much better than any 3D animation out there, Disney included although I love Chicken Little. It has become a standard argument to compare Pixar's latest effort with Pixar's previous efforts because in terms of the looks, the story and the execution of it, no other productions can ever compare with Pixar except Pixar themselves. Of course this is like blowing your own trumpet but when one is good, one is good. My most favourite Pixar movie seems to be dictated by which is the latest, because each one seems to get better than the previous effort. The last effort was Cars. Although The Incredibles may be funnier or more relevant, but Cars to me is a better effort because how can you tell a story occupied 100% by cars? How do you animate cars? Well let the sifus at Pixar show you the way. My most favourite Pixar flick is still Finding Nemo because even now what I could see is still as gorgeous as the first time I saw it, the story as funny and the characters as engaging. I am also a sucker for those against the odd types of stories that if done well can be inspiring but if done badly seems too forced just so to let the underdog win. The ads for Ratatouille was on since a year ago and I was immediately captivated by the premise of the story; a rat who wants to be a cook and who is picky about what he eats. How can that be?! Immediately I knew this poor rat was in for the biggest fight of his life to realise his ambition and I knew it was going to be fun. I may sound like a psychic or a seer but when it comes to Pixar, anything is possible and if it is impossible, let Pixar do it and anything will become possible. After watching Ratatouille, I now believe rats can cook and rats do know how to keep themselves clean. Call that the power of entertainment.

I will make no doubt my love for this movie. But my love goes beyond just being entertained. Like all other reviews that have been positively glowing towards this Pixar's latest effort, this review will be as glowing, if not more so. Do be forewarned; you may need your sunglassess when reading this review.

This movie reminds me of Babe which remains as my most favourite movie of all time. I am sucker for underdog stories, especially when one is not supposed to do that particular thing. Like Babe, a pig who dreams of being a sheepdog. Or like in Happy Feet, a penguin who can't sing but has a talent for tap dancing, a movie which ranks quite high in my all time favourites. I love a story about breaking the mold, going beyond what is expected of you and achieving the impossible. And combine that with a story about food, to me that's pure perfection.

However, for the life of me I really didn't know what to expect from this movie to tell you the truth. How were they going to show a rat cooking? Like how could Marlin from the sea save Nemo who is in a fishtank? Well, this is where the power of imagination, a little bit of over the top dreaming and some dose of practicalities could make this possible.

I was so eager to watch this movie, the moment it came out on Thursday 16.08.2007, I was buying the ticket on 17.08.2007 and watching it on 18.08.2007 at 11.00AM show at TGV cinema at Cheras Selatan. The ticket was RM7-00! Morning show you see. The time seemed to go by so slowly that week but once the weekend came, boom! Went by so fast. The movie was not very long, since I left the cinema at 1pm. But every moment in that movie was magical. The graphics were beyond excellent, the music score very suitable, the dialogue witty, the characters engaging especially little Remy himself, the ending was unexpected but still as great and the food....oh the food...so hungry...so very hungry.... all looked so real. I especially love the scene where the animators tried to animate what good food feels like as Remy showed to us the musical colours and musical beats. Reminds me of The Three Caballeros.

But what makes the movie so great is the story, the unbeatable aspect of this movie. Whatever others may criticise it as saying it is the usual fare, unbelievable or even insulting to the French, the point is I believe French culinary is chosen because I suppose it is the epitome of high class dining and being an art form and Remy a rat simply because it is capable of being cuter than a cockroach and a rat is an enemy of the kitchen. It is like an oxymoron or whatever when the entire premise of the story is a rat who dreams of being a cook.

What is great about the story, believe it or not is that it is highly original. Of course nothing is original about an underdog fighting for a place in this big bad world, but a rat? In a kitchen? Cooking? How then does he communicate? How does he move the saucepan? Isn't a rat dirty? Diseased even? Remy is a very clean rat, he likes being clean and he takes particular care on what he puts into his stomach, eventhough he may be a rat. He is also nimble and agile, so he can jump up and down as he finds the ingredients, the herbs and spices to add into a soup or a dish. As illustrated in an earlier scene, he could even operate a saucepan and made an omelette. But how can he cut, clice, stir and serve?

Well the genius at Pixar figured that out by the help of a very clumsy but nimble kitchen boy, Linguini. When we first met Linguini, he was desperate for a job and he really can't cook. In fact even the rat can cook better but then the rat has talent. Linguini has heart and since Remy is a very smart rat who can read and understand human language, Linguini can talk to Remy and Remy could respond by gestures. And oh, how expressive a simple gesture can be and the genius at Pixar has outdone themselves in that department. But then if a car can emote, why not a rat? After much trial and error, Remy discovered he can control Linguini's movement like a puppet by pulling his hair. So Remy stays hidden on the top of Linguini's head inside the top hat and pulled Linguini's hair to move him around. Linguini himself didn't mind these manipulation as he slices and cooks and reaches for the spices whilst trying to hide the fact that there is a rat under his hat. His boss, the executive chef by the name of Skinner was no amused when clumsy Linguini turned out to be a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and he thought he saw a rat with him all the time. At the same time Linguini was to inherit the restaurant Gusteau, once headed by the great chef Gusteau whose words of advice to aspiring chefs inspired Remy and also infuriated the fearsome food critic, the pale thin glum looking Anton Ego, whose last review on the restaurant practically killed off the restaurant's reputation and Gusteau himself. But Remy took to heart Gusteau's advice that he heard over the TV and also with Gusteau appearing as his conscience, that anyone can cook and not everyone can be great but greatness can come from anywhere which has become the driving force behind the story. When Anton Ego heard of Linguini's success he was eager to crush it and challenged Linguini to cook him something. But Remy and Linguini were having some misunderstanding thanks to Linguini who didn't acknowlege Remy and Remy taking revenge on Linguini by opening the door of the kitchen and let his fellow rats steal food from it and Remy in a moment of weakness almost resigned to his own fate as a rat but then he realised he wants to cook and he is a cook. His passion and love for food and cooking led him back to Linguini who was felt he didn't do justice to his Little Chef. The last stand was between Remy and Anton Ego and there lies the significance of the title of this movie, ratatouille. To see how Anton Ego reacted to this dish and what he subsequently wrote and narrated at the end of the movie which closely reflect myself as an amateur critic was a powerful statement of admission of when something's good, you can't destroy it even if you wanted to simply for the sake of destroying it. Whilst I doubt anyone can ever know the executive chef of a restaurant is a rat, I love the ending with Remy and Linguini's story. But what I love most is the story of Anton Ego. His scenes may be few but pivotal to Remy's fate and in the end he is the heart of this very heart warming story.

And what a heart warming story it is. It won't cause you tears, it is not a tear jerker but it does make you think. Just because it has a cute cuddly looking rat by the name of Remy doesn't necessarily make this movie about a cute cuddly animal. It is about daring to dream, it is about going beyond what others think is your destiny, it is about being passionate about something, about talent, about reflection, about a good heart and most of all it is about recognition. Recognising a good person and payment in kind of his kindness, it is recognising talent even from the most impossible source and encouraging that talent and it is about recognising what is missing from ones soul and when found, fill it with joy and warmth and admitting that "anyone can cook". Like that tagline of this movie, greatness can come from anywhere, and it takes an animated movie about a rat who dreams of being a cook to tell the cynic in all of us just that.

The voice acting is also excellent and I am just too glad that it is not filled to the brim with famous stars just for the sake of having famous stars. I have never heard of the actor who voiced Remy, the voice that voiced Linguini is reportedly a Pixar employee, Ian Holm, Brad Garrett and Janeane Garofalo's voices were unrecognisable to me and each one has the French accent and as in the tradition of a pixar flick, we have again John Ratzenberger. But it was Peter O'Toole that nearly stole the show from the other cast with his sinister, dark and arrogant Anton Ego, whose character quite live up to his own name. You could hear his disdain, his arrogance and his hatred for what Gusteau stood for. He does look like Christopher Lee and I am quite surprised why Christopher didn't voice this character instead. He would have done a great job too but you know, Peter O'Toole really nailed the character, as in every voice actor in this movie.

Only the most foolish will have anything to criticise about this movie. And to those who feels this movie transmits sublime insults and stereotypes of the French or women, I am sorry to say the point of this great story is lost in these people. But then you can't cater to all, and to each his own opinion. Of course certain things are universal and if one chooses to be a rebel for the sake of being a rebel, the plight of Anton Ego is perhaps most apt to describe these special group of rebels. And hopefully like Anton Ego, they will be able to have the capacity and the broadmindedness to admit that when something is good, it is good.

Verdict
Pure brilliance and stunning visuals. But the best is the heartfelt story. A masterpiece and to me perfection. I know some boycott animated film, thinking it is for children only but this story has many levels and on deeper levels on adults who have been through that stage in life where we doubt ourselves eventhough we know we have what it takes to realise that dream, this movie will tap into that inner you and hopefully like Remy, despite the odds against us, I hope we too can achieve our dreams. This movie deserves repeated viewings and it is a must to watch it on the big screen to appreciate the level of details. But most of all, this movie can be enjoyed by everyone of all ages and it is perhaps one of those very few things in life in entertainment that both adult and child can both find something they like, like the Harry Potter books.

Bon appetit!

What is Ratatouille?
I believe the dish is chosen in part due to its humble roots (so it is like Remy himself) and the play of word, RAT-tatouille. The name as reminded in the posters is pronounced at Rat-Ta-Too-Ee. Rat as in a straight rat and not the rat's rat.

Taken from imdb.com, Ratatouille is a tasty French Provençial dish made from stewed vegetables. The dish is versatile and can be served with rice, potatoes, French bread or itself can be a side dish. Its main basic ingredients consist of tomatoes, onions and zucchinis. The name of the dish appears to derive from the French touiller, "to stir", although the root of the first element "rata" is slang from the French Army meaning "chunky stew".

From what I can read in the forums, some didn't find it tasty. Maybe that is because of the universal dislike for all things vegetables I suppose. It sounds tasty and from what I could see in the movie, it looks quite delicious. By the way all the food in the movie is real, prepared by a real chef.

Virtual set tour
Yes! You can actually visit the set pieces in Ratatouille itself! Click HERE to find out more.

The DVD
Is out! A pity though. I can't find the The Making Of feature. I really wanted to know the actors behind the voices! So I searched it and found a featurette in youtube!





More Info
For more info, pictures, screencaps and stirring reviews by us commoners, visit Imdb.com.

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