There is always a pleasant buzz surrounding the release of a Disney/Pixar movie. Expectations are high but that’s hardly surprising seeing as they always seem to deliver the goods. I think it is fair to call them a rare breed in today’s Hollywood – where so many films do indeed disappoint. With seven pictures already under their belt, The Incredibles director Brad Bird is recalled to the hot seat for Pixar’s eighth outing, Ratatouille.
With bugs, toys, monsters, fish, superheroes, and even cars already brought to life, Ratatouille goes after rats. Who would of thought it was possible to make those rodents who terrorise our sewer systems into likable characters, but that is exactly what Pixar has pulled off here.
The story – the key to Pixar’s success over the years – centres on a rat named Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) whose dream of becoming a chef becomes reality when he teams up with clumsy wannabe chef Linguini (Lou Romano). It all happens courtesy of some ingenious hair pulling on Remy's part, which he uses in order to direct Linguini to create original and tasty dishes in a famous Paris restaurant. Linguini quickly becomes the biggest chef in the city, but can he ever reveal his secret?
When it comes to animation can be no denying that Pixar is still a step above their competitors. So, when Remy first emerges from the sewer system and the camera overlooks Paris, it’s no surprise how stunning it looks and how real it feels. The same can be said for the rest of the film, with every shot delicately rendered and detailed.
Through the years, Pixar’s films have never been short on vocal talent. The names range from Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in the Toy Story films, Billy Crystal and John Goodman in Monsters, Inc., Albert Brooks and Willem Dafoe in Finding Nemo, Owen Wilson and Paul Newman in Cars, to even Mr. Cool himself Samuel L. Jackson in The Incredibles. However, interestingly enough the only real household name on display in Ratatouille is veteran British actor Peter O’Toole as snooty food critic Anton Ego.
However this doesn’t prove to be a problem as Patton Oswalt and Lou Romano provide some excellent vocal work and help to bring the very likable characters to life. Another British actor, Ian Holm, also pops up as the villain of the piece, Skinner, and clearly relishes the role.
The only slight qualm I have with Ratatouille is the unusual lack of big laughs for a Pixar movie. That’s not to say there are not laughs, because there certainly are, including an ironic cameo from real-life Chef Jamie Oliver as a health inspector who gets more than he bargained for after visiting the restaurant.
The slight lack of laughs however is more than made up for with some brilliant action set-pieces including a frantic chase through the city. And of course no Pixar film would be complete without a short film to accompany it at the start, and the tradition continues here in the form of Lifted; an hilarious tale of an alien attempting an abduction for the first time.
Disney/Pixar have delivered the goods once again and when they do it as well as this it’s a splendid treat that will bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.