guppy's film reviews

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ratatouille

Year: 2007
Director: Brad Bird
Notable Actors: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Peter O'Toole, Janeane Garofalo
Score: A-
Summary: Another excellent addition to the Pixar line.

Pixar is one of the great success stories of American animation. Once in a while the studio will make something subpar -- but for Pixar, "subpar" just means "slightly less amazing." I'm happy to announce that the newest Pixar offering, Ratatouille, is another top-notch film deserving of the studio pedigree.

Ratatouille is the story of, yes, a rat. A rat named Remy who doesn't want to be like the other rats -- one who has watched master chef Gusteau's cooking shows and read his book, "Anyone Can Cook," and who has a genuine gift for the art. But of course the restaurants of Paris can't have rats in their restaurants. The public simply wouldn't stand for it. So he settles into an arrangement with the otherwise-incompetent beginning chef Linguini. Of course, the owner of the restaurant, Chef Skinner, isn't thrilled with the idea of being upstaged by Linguini, and so the stage is set.

Ratatouille is written and directed by none other than Brad Bird, whose resume boasts such modern classics as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. His work here gives Ratatouille a wonderful spark of liveliness from end to end -- the screen is constantly full of bright, active visuals that really engage the viewer.

I can't say that any single voice actor took top honors, but the strong ensemble cast voiced every character appropriately. Every major character is represented very well; standouts include Remy himself (Oswalt) and a wonderfully understated Colette (Garofalo).

The script is great as well. The characters are charismatic, and there's a joke around every corner, particularly late in the film. The animation is a real achievement as well, full of bounce and fascinating to watch. It may be a bit long for a film largely aimed at kids, clocking in at 110 minutes, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

This is the best Pixar film since Finding Nemo and I recommend it highly. It's sufficiently child-friendly to take the kids, an important feature in a family film, and adults will enjoy it as well. Highly recommended and one of the more memorable films of the year.

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