Monday, January 7, 2008


Brad Bird's colorful, exuberant, and smart animated film RATATOUILLE (****) is more an animated film for adults than it is for kids. I'm not saying that there's anything innapropriate or objectionable about the story or the dialogue or even that it's a subversive family movie along the lines of BABE: PIG IN THE CITY or MONSTER HOUSE. The kiddies will certainly love the cute, talking rat and the wacky hijinks that he gets into. But adults (and anyone over the age of 13 to be honest) will be swept up by the story, the characters, and the bold animation that easily sets the standard as far as these things go. I have never been a big animated movie fan; there's something about watching animated characters that doesn't connect with me in the way that a live-action film does. Still, every once in a while, a movie like this or THE INCREDIBLES comes along (both were made by Bird), and I am reminded that there is room for a great animated tale. Remy, voiced by Patton Oswalt, is a clever little rat who loves to cook. He loves it so much that he infiltrates a fancy French restaurant in Paris and whips up a soup that blows everyone away. But...he's a rat. A sloppy young janitor with head-chef aspirations named Linguini happens to be in the right place at the right time and gets credit for the special soup. Trouble is...Linguini doesn't really know how to cook. And even though he knows that a rat is responsible for making such a lovely concoction, he knows he can't tell the truth. So Linguini teams up with Remy and the two of them whip up some tasty dishes, teach each other a little bit about themselves, and how to work together as a team. There's a nasty chef (voiced by Ian Holm) who wants to expose Linguini for the fraud that he is and take over the restaurant, and there's a snobby food critic (voiced by Peter O'Toole) that Remy and Linguini try to impress. RATATOUILLE is hardly the best film of the year but there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, either. It's fast paced, funny, clever, bright (both in design and spirit), and it's just a blast to watch. It'll also make you hungry.

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