Some movies are made for children. Some movies are made for adults. Some movies, special movies, are made for both. Disney/ Pixar's newest offering, Ratatouille falls into that special category. I was fortunate enough to take my family to see Ratatouille at an early screening, which was nice because it was free. But I would pay to see a second time.
While my children had expressed an interest in seeing Ratatouille, I was not so enthusiastic. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Flushed Away, rats, in general, give me the creeps. The thought of rats in a kitchen makes me want to gag. However, Remy, the rat in Ratatouille who dreams of becoming a chef, not only didn't bother me, I found myself rooting for him from the first moment he appeared on screen. I love characters who long to break out, shatter stereotypes and achieve success unimagined by their peers and that is exactly what "Little Chef," as Remy comes to be called, does.
Ratatouille is one of those films with lots of valuable messages, but it never feels preachy. Most of the characters, from Remy to Linguini, Remy's human "ghost chef," to Colette, the only female in the kitchen at Gusteau's (the world famous restaurant where these three work) and even to Anton Ego, the powerful, somewhat sinister food critic feared by even the greatest chefs, are multidimensional and interesting. They are all, on some level, trying to stave off failure and yet, each one risks that very thing in the pursuit of their own definition of success.
Aside from that, and perhaps even more importantly, Ratatouille is genuinely funny. The physical comedy, if it can be called that when referring to animated characters, is terrific. Linguini's metamorphosis from gangly, spastic, marionette to graceful, assured, chef is a delight to watch. An early scene involving Remy, his brother Emil, a mushroom, a bit of cheese, and a lightening storm had us all laughing out loud, as did a later scene involving Emil, a bundle of asparagus and a bunch of grapes. Who knew great food could be so funny?
Finally, I must make a special place for a character my husband and I particularly enjoyed, the previously mentioned Anton Ego, whose physical appearance is the kind of creepy that immediately marks him as "the bad guy." His voice, which is scathingly scornful (Peter O'Toole's enormous talents are used to great effect in this role), also marks him as separate and unapproachable. He is nasty and unlikable and a great villain of sorts, except that he is not. He, like many of the other characters in this film, is not simply what he appears to be. The same, in fact, could be said of this movie. Like a great soup or sauce or even ratatouille, simple individual ingredients mixed with love and attention to detail can come together to create something altogether different, something worthwhile, and something sublime.
Sue "Mom on Film" Harvey is a mother of three who shares her passion
for film with bi-weekly, family-friendly movie recommendations.
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