Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Ratatouille

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
6 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Starring:
Patton Oswalt as Remy (voice)
Ian Holm as Skinner (voice)
Lou Romano as Linguini (voice)
Brian Dennehy as Django (voice)
Peter Sohn as Emile (voice)
Peter O'Toole as Anton Ego (voice)
Brad Garrett as Gusteau (voice)
Janeane Garofalo as Colette (voice)
Will Arnett as Horst (voice)
Julius Callahan as Lalo/Francois (voice)
James Remar as Larousse (voice)
John Ratzenberger as Mustafa (voice)
Teddy Newton as Lawyer (voice)
Tony Fucile as Pompidou/Health Inspector (voice)

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
An All-New Animated Short -- Remy & Emile in "Your Friend the Rat"
Fine Food & Film -- See Two Worlds Come Together in this Behind-the-Scenes
Feature With Director Brad Bird and Critically Acclaimed Chef Thomas Keller
"Lifted" -- Hilarious Animated Theatrical Short Film

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 111 Minutes

Synopsis:
Remy is a French country rat. He's considered an oddball by his friends and family because he loves fine foods and cooking. But when Remy and his rat colony are run out of their farmhouse home, he accidentally ends up in Paris at Gusteau's, a fine restaurant established by his cooking idol.

Remy arrives at the restaurant at the same time as Linguini, the new garbage boy. Linguini also loves to cook, but he's lacking one necessary thing the ability to cook. By dumb luck, Linguini discovers that Remy can actually cook. Seeing both of their dreams potentially coming true, they form an unlikely partnership. But what will happens when word gets out that a rat is in the kitchen?

"Ratatouille" is rated G.

The Movie:
You have to admit that "Ratatouille" has the hardest sell of any Pixar film. It's about the French and it's about cooking and gourmet foods. (I would have loved to hear the pitch for this one.) But ultimately, the concept works. It's by no means the best Pixar film, but it's not the first Pixar fumble, either.

What makes "Ratatouille" fun for me is the little character touches here and there. In one scene Remy makes little hand motions as he can't quite go past an unfinished soup. In another scene, Remy carefully pulls a blindfold over Linguini's eyes after a kitchen accident. In another, Skinner flips out while trying to figure out where Remy disappeared to. It's these little touches that add something special to the characters and set the Pixar animation far above its peers.

The cast of "Ratatouille" is excellent. Patton Oswalt is the perfect choice for the voice of Remy. He practically looks and sounds like an animated character anyway, so it's a natural fit. He really brings a lot of passion to Remy's love of foods. When he describes an explosion of taste in food, you really begin to understand Remy's passion. I was also amazed by the performance of Ian Holm as Skinner, the evil chef. I had no idea Holm played the character until the credits rolled. It's really a standout performance in his career. I was also impressed by Peter O'Toole as Anton Ego. The creators take a perfectly placed shot at critics in this film and they couldn't have chosen anyone better to do so than O'Toole. He is both a nemesis and an ally in this movie and his transition is perfectly believable thanks to O'Toole. The rest of the cast is also noteworthy including Lou Romano as Linguini, Brian Dennehy as Django, Brad Garrett as Gusteau, Janeane Garofalo as Colette, and Will Arnett as Horst. And yes, John Ratzenberger makes his trademark Pixar cameo.

I also absolutely loved the short before this film entitled "Lifted." It features a couple of aliens rather unsuccessfully trying to abduct a farmer from his house. Spielberg aliens these are not.

On the down side, "Ratatouille" is probably the least accessible film for little kids. (You can probably figure that out by the lack of "Ratatouille" merchandise in stores.) While my wife and I enjoyed the film, it completely bored my 5 year old and 2 year old. (Actually, the 2 year old wouldn't sit through anything, so he doesn't count.) Unless there was serious rat action happening on the screen, they were easily distracted. "Ratatouille" is more for older kids and adults than the younger set.

That being said, even I checked my watch a couple of times during this film. "Ratatouille" takes a nice, leisurely pace as its story unfolds. And it doesn't end with the big, climactic finish you might expect. It's more of a neat, quiet, pleasantly packaged conclusion than a big, explosive summer movie ending. Some people might find that a refreshing change, but I needed something to kind of wake me up.

The Extras:
You'll find an unusually light offering of bonus features on the "Ratatouille" DVD. They also happen to be aimed squarely at adults and older kids. There are no games or little kid videos here. It makes me think a more elaborate edition is on the way some time in the future. Here is what you will find:

Deleted Scenes - There are three deleted scenes and they total 15 minutes in running time. Each of them is in storyboard or animatic format. "Chez Gusteau" shows a more elaborate introduction to the restaurant in the film. Gusteau also happens to still be alive in the scene. The same goes for "Meet Gusteau". In it we see more of the famous chef and he talks about the "microwave burritos" sold under his name. Finally, "First Day" shows an alternate version of Linguini's first day on the job.

An All-New Animated Short - Remy & Emile In "Your Friend the Rat" In this short the rat stars of the film give a brief history of rats told in 2-D animation. It's very reminiscent of the old Disney cartoon documentaries hosted by the duck professor. In this you learn Norwegian rats came from China. Who knew?

Fine Food & Film - In this odd 14 minute featurette, director Brad Bird and Chef Thomas Keller talk about the similarities between filmmaking and cooking. This will bore children to death, but it is an interesting comparison between two art forms.

Also included is the short "Lifted" and a couple of Easter Egg videos. One discusses alternate titles for the film and the pronunciation of "ratatouille". A second one has a brief commercial for rat killer.

The Bottom Line:
"Ratatouille" is a solid, entertaining animated film, but it's more for adults than small kids. Don't expect it to reach the popularity of previous Pixar films.

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