DVD Review: Ratatouille

Since their feature debut “Toy Story” came out more than ten years ago, Pixar has been the best source of animated film in the entire industry. For almost every year after that they churned out greater and greater films such as “Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles”, and last year’s “Cars.” In 2007 they brought the story of Remy the Rat, a rodent with the knack for cooking, in “Ratatouille.” While “Ratatouille” is very cute and expertly animated, it didn’t have the kind of magic that we’ve seen from the now legendary company.

The story is simple. Remy the rat (voiced by one of the best comedians out there, Patton Oswalt) is not like his other family members. Instead of foraging through trash, Remy has the unfortunate/fortunate sense of good taste. Through a chain of events he ends up assisting a screw-up named Linguini (Lou Romano) in a 3-star restaurant in Paris. The restaurant finds itself very popular due to its new chef even though all the work has been done by his little rat friend. Linguini and Remy find their hardest challenge when the prolific food critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) decides to come back to see if he made the mistake of giving the restaurant a bad grade (bringing it down a star).

The story is clever, but a lot of the film feels too fanciful. In one scene, there are hundreds of rats cooking in the kitchen being watched by people. This just seems a little unrealistic (wouldn’t they completely freak out?). I know what you’re saying… “Cars” was a movie about talking cars, that seems a little more unrealistic. “Cars”, however, was a film with a different concept and a different world. This film is supposed to be more like the real world, and in the real world people do not reply well to seeing that many rats in any place at any time.

The film just felt too overly sweet, and not as strong as Pixar’s previous efforts. It also didn’t feel as smart. Pixar movies have always had a smarter side to them that set them apart from the opposing animation companies. “Ratatouille” just wasn’t up to that level of sharp wit as its predecessors.

Something that can be said about the film was its wonderful voice work. Peter O’Toole brings a wonderful dreariness to his character, a role that seems just destined for his voice. Patton Oswalt also speaks very well through his character, bringing all of his feelings out in a way that only a comedian can (slightly sarcastic, but well-intentioned). The star of the film is the perennial Pixar voice of John Ratzenberger in a bit part as the French waiter. It’s obviously Ratzenberger, but the addition of a French accent makes it twice as hilarious.

“Ratatouille” is very sweet but can’t lift above its lack of wit. It’s definitely worth a watch but doesn’t have the rewatchability like Pixar’s other movies. It has a good story and a message, but it just doesn’t feel as special.

In a year filled with disappointments, it is sad to see a movie like Ratatouille not completely fulfill its anticipations. “Cars” was one of the best films of last year, and it’s just a shame to see Ratatouille in the same ranks as some of the other low rate animated films released this year. Hopefully next year’s “Wall-E”, which looks extremely promising, will blow away the problems that Pixar seemed to have with this film. While it’s better than many of the other animated films that were released in 2007, it isn’t that much better.

Grade: B

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6 Comments

Filed under DVD, Pixar, Review

6 responses to “DVD Review: Ratatouille

  1. Sean

    I liked Ratatouille so much better then Finding Nemo. It desired at lest a B+.

  2. Matt M.

    I couldnt disagree more.
    I realize that B is a good grade but Ratatouille is the best film that Pixar has ever made and surpasses every animated film before it, including beauty and the beast, which at least in my eyes should make it a contender for the best picture oscar like B. & the B. Brad Bird is fantastic, a gift to animation and one of its most stringent advocates in hollywood, he deserves recognition for trying to bring attention to animation as an art form equal to that of any live action film, which with some hope Persepolis can achieve (although i doubt it will surpass this film in quality). I fear that the Best Animated Picture Oscar may prevent a film like Ratatouille from being considered a big time contender because people may see it as having it’s own category, in the same way as they see some fantastic foreign films, and therefore ignore it for best picture. Anyways, everything about this movie is grand, the animation has never been better (the sewer scene), the chase sequence is equal parts hilarious and thrilling, the jokes are funny for everyone (the chef’s cardboard cut outs for Haggis and tooth pickin’ chicken) the voice acting is expert and the story line is superb. My favorite part of the movie is the one line that they use to justify the entirely bizarre premise of a rat controlling a man via his hair “Strangely Involuntary” which should go down as one of movies greatest quotes in my opinion. Anyways. your wrong, cars blew, very badly, it was an awful film, but Ratatouille has largely redeemed Pixar here, being by far the best animated film produced this year and perhaps the best film period. If you don’t agree there’s about 150 reviews up on Rotten Tomato and Metacritic to back me up here.

  3. matt m.

    btw im in england now and am therefore for all intents and purposes 21, and have come home tonight after a few drinks. please attribute my grammatical errors etc. to that but all the feelings all truly my own.

  4. Josh

    I’m sorry…

    I did like it… I just wasn’t blown away or as happy as I was with other Pixar films.

    I love Brad Bird and I adored “The Incredibles.” I also had a hard time writing this review, because I didn’t know how I truly felt… It just wasn’t my favorite, so I wrote the low points. I might have to watch it again.

    It’s my favorite animated film of the year thus far (I still haven’t seen “Persepolis”). I was REALLY looking forward to it and was left wanting more, and not in a good way.

    I really value your criticisms, and I hope that this hasn’t turned you off of my blog, dude.

  5. matt m.

    josh nothing could turn me off your blog
    no worries, i enjoy arguing about movies and i had to defend what i saw as a really good movie. please keep on doing what youre doing, its great.

  6. matt m.

    i hope my criticism wasn’t too harsh.

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