The Pixar juggernaut continues! I've always been enthralled by the movies that Pixar puts out ever since Toy Story, and through the years, Pixar has built a brand of trust amongst movie goers, with quality storytelling using animation as a tool to tell them, not because it's cool to do things through the medium, but that it adds a certain powerful, believable dimension, with stories rooted to universal themes, yet jazzed up by the structure in which it's told. The Incredibles ranked amongst my favourite so far, but writer-director Brad Bird has topped that with Ratatouille, a story about a rat, and probably the most mature of the Pixar stories to date.
One of the rare successful rats in the animated genre is Mickey, but Remy here (voiced by Patton Oswalt) has more character, and with that photo realistic quality to him, will give Mickey a run for his money. It's a class act story about a rat who dreams of being somebody, of wanting to follow that dream in becoming a chef in Paris, and is undeterred by his size, and well, form, even though in any kitchen, the last thing you want is a rat in it. And to realize his dream, he forms a symbiotic friendship with bumbling Linguini (Lou Romano), a garbage boy who just joined the restaurant which Remy's idol, the late renowned chef Gusteau (Brad Garrett), founded.
It's a story about the tussle between friendship and family, with the latter providing an added emphasis, and you'll happen to just about find a familiar chord to it. Remember the time when your folks frown upon the friends you keep, and how sometimes, through their good intentions, unwittingly stifle your hopes and desires? Or how family becomes that obstructing stone on the pathway to success, or being taken for granted to provide for greedy, unabashed family and so-called friends? Ratatouille explores these and more, though they're kept veiled and subtle for the narrative to move on, and never provided a dull moment for kids and adults alike.
Pixar's animation continues to astound, and provide inspiration to the many 3D animators out there - they have always set new benchmarks for others to follow, and I think they're on top of their game with the excellent animated portrayal of Paris, the kitchen, and of course, the rats, with that touch of photo realistic quality to it all, which does wonders to the food presented. Amongst the food, I like the crusty breads best - you can almost feel the texture, and the rustling sound is just to die for. And the cheese, you can just feel it melt in your mouth. Mmm mmm!
The story's adversaries might be familiar - a mean boss Skinner (Ian Holm) and a mightier-than-though food critic Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole), but it's the latter, despite his shorter screentime, that does its best to chill, and it was such an obvious jab with making him English. The comedy's here top notch, not necessarily relying solely on slapstick to bring on the laughs, but possessing many sly moments throughout as you root for little Remy and his escapades, less so for Linguini though, who comes off as that perfect loser in life.
Ratatouille is a perfectly delicious offering worthy of that Pixar stamp, and definitely gonna be a crowd pleaser. I'm not sure why the delay in getting it released here, and having to suffer watching poor quality animation along the way. But the wait is well worth it, and I bet everyone will be pleasantly surprised indeed, with all the ingredients coming together for that wonderful presentation, that tastes and looks just wonderful. Despite the overkill of trailers, pre-screening warnings to turn off your mobile phones, etc, continue to put your trust in that little rat Remy, and savour what Ratatouille has to offer. No regrets - highly recommended, and another contender for my top movie of the year listing.
Ratatouille is preceded by the trailer for the next Pixar movie Wall-E, and a short Pixar featurette titled Lifted, about two aliens and one of their attempts in passing the Alien Abduction course. Stay throughout the animated end credits for a little coda at the end.