Monday, August 27, 2007


What is the difference between a squirrel and a rat?

Ratatouille is a film that goes a long way to rehabilitate the reputation of rats. It is the latest Pixar / Walt Disney animation. So it should come as no surprise that the story is animal driven. In this case a rat, 'cursed' with a superior sense of smell, decides that he has had enough of stealing and eating garbage. He wants to eat good food. In fact not only eat good food, but learn to cook it too.

Ignoring his father's advice to "stay away from the humans", Remy ventures into the kitchen to try real food, watch TV cooking programs and read a cookbook left open on the bench. Naturally dad was right, catastrophe strikes and the rat family has to leave (via the sewer) chased by an angry shotgun wielding old woman.

Our hero finds himself outside the restaurant of his TV chef hero on the day that a new boy (Linguini) starts working in the kitchen. With way more enthusiasm than talent Linguini starts by screwing things up and Remy comes to his rescue. Once Linguini realises that Remy isn't vermin the two new comers join forces in the hostile environment of the restaurant kitchen. First they have to overcome the language barrier. Remy can understand what humans say but humans can't understand rats. The animators make great mileage out of how they do this. Then the pair have to overcome the jealousy of the boss.

Judging by the squeals and excited explanations of what was on the screen the film was a hit with the kids sitting further down our row at Hoyts last week. The film is packed with lots of good old fashioned morals: don't steal, don't judge by appearances, value loyalty, value teamwork and don’t let being the odd one out get you down. Plus some more complex ones like "who comes first: family or friends?” I have no idea if any of that stuff makes the desired impression on kids, but this film has it by the truck load.

It is longish (almost 2 hours) and the plot is pretty predictable but for kids I doubt if that matters and there are enough jokes and fun visuals to keep the adults amused. I think the animators have done well with making the rats move in a rat-like way. Even the final credits are fun to watch.

Not quite as good as Finding Nemo but definitely recommended.

Ian's rating: 4/5

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