Patton Oswalt………Remy (voice)
Ian Holm………Skinner (voice)
Brad Garrett………Gusteau (voice)
Janeane Garafalo………Colette (voice)
Lou Romano………Linguini (voice)
Peter Sohn………Emile (voice)
DVD Release Date: November 6, 2007 Rating: G Running Time: 111 Minutes
Remy has a taste for the finer things in life and that is what differentiates him from his entire family. It actually is what makes him unlike anyone in his entire race to be honest. You see, Remy is a rat. Diving into dumpsters, picking up food off the streets, and grabbing tidbits as they flow by in the waters of a sewer is not actually what one would call appropriate for a connoisseur of great food. Remy wants to taste the great foods of the world, but more so he wants to follow his dream of becoming a French chef.
Remy’s family doesn’t exactly support his dream. They don’t quite seem to understand what is wrong with the food they can get free by stealing or simply finding it lying around. Still, Remy feels that he could be a great chef because his idol, the culinary master Chef Gusteau says so. But he must respect his family and simply live out his lifelong dream in his mind.
It couldn’t just end like that though or we’d have a really short film. Remy is eventually separated by his family as they travel down the sewer and soon he is visited by the ghost of the recently passed Gusteau. Discussing his dream with his idol, Remy is lead to Gusteau’s restaurant in Paris that is now being run by a horrible little man named Skinner. The great restaurant is a shell of its former self and doesn’t have the same aura that it once did with the portly chef at the helm. It is even being limited to cheap gimmicks in order to get customers back through its doors.
Taking a look around the kitchen, Remy is overwhelmed with the sights and smells of some of the greatest food he could ever imagine. He simply must get a closer look and possibly a taste, but a rat in the kitchen will always lead to chaos. Especially when discovered. Remy is caught by the janitor of the kitchen, Linguini, who is nothing if he isn’t down on his luck. As he takes Remy out to get rid of him, Linguini talks to himself and knows he needs to keep his job because it is all he can get. He really wishes he could cook, but knows he has no culinary ability whatsoever. This is where fate comes in.
Linguini doesn’t have the skills to cook but would love to. Remy has the skills and also would love to cook, but can’t because he is a rat. Being able to fulfill their dreams together, Linguini throws aside any reality and figures out a way to have Remy help him cook. The rat will sit under Linguini’s chef’s hat and control his arms to pick up ingredients, mix them together, and cook some of the greatest dishes the world has ever known.
Ratatouille is another great film from Disney and Pixar that does nothing but work. It has comedy, romance, some action, and suspense all rolled into one. The film tells an excellent story from start to finish and even has a few subplots thrown in for good measure. A possible romance between Linguini and Colette. Remy’s family finding out that he went against their wishes. Skinner learning a secret about Linguini and hoping it is never revealed. All of these things add so much to the story yet never overpower one another. Now that is good storytelling.
One thing I truly liked about Ratatouille that seems to separate it from the likes of Cars, Toy Story, or Finding Nemo, is how much it is driven by dialogue. There is a lot of talking in this film with background set up from Remy’s narration to Gusteau filling in Remy on how he can follow his dream to Remy and Linguini trying to figure out how to make their partnership work. Sure there is a lot of situational comedy and Remy never actually speaks to Linguini, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t talking. Instead of being flashy or needing a big action sequence every five minutes, Ratatouille relies on what the characters say to get the point going and keep the audience interested. It worked.
You also can’t help but marvel at how simply beautiful the film is. Seeing the kitchen with the pots and pans all over while things bubble on the stove or rise in the oven makes you really get the feel of a cooking show. It’s almost as if you are right there preparing the meals yourself because the CGI food shown before you looks better then any restaurant meal you’ve had in months, trust me. It really is quite a shame that mere voices and computer generated imagery can consistently produce better films then those showcasing real actors. But as long as it keeps being done, I’ll keep enjoying them.
The film is shown in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and as always from Pixar it is absolutely gorgeous. The actions and movements of every single character, tablecloth, and noodle flow in vivid animation to perfection. The colors are bright when they need to be and dark in appropriate places. If you’ve never seen Paris in person as I haven’t, then seeing how beautiful Pixar portrays it to be is about as close as you can get without actually hopping on a plane.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound is one of the few Pixar/Disney films that is actually more dialogue-driven then anything else. Don’t get me wrong that all the music and sound effects are perfect with the surround sound, but with more dialogue then anything, the surrounding speakers don’t get as much work as they did say with Cars.
Deleted Scenes – There are three deleted scenes which can be viewed with commentary or without. They are shown with full sound in animation and also animated storyboards. These three scenes alone would have added fifteen more minutes to the film, so my guess is they were cut for time constraints because they’re pretty good.
Animated Short: Your Friend The Rat – Another great short film in the form a Public Service Announcement/Infomercial all about how rats and humans should be friends. Emile and Remy host this informative short and take you on a 3-D, 2-D, animated, news clip filled, musical journey through the history of the rat.
Animated Short: Lifted – One of my favorite animated shorts because it is just so simple and very hilarious. A farmer is in his room sleeping and suddenly a bright blue light comes and lifts him from his bed. About to be taken through his window and deep into the throngs of space. That is until he slams head first into the wall over and over again as we see a young alien is simply taking his “abduction test” under a monitor’s watchful eye.
“Fine Food And Film” – This is a really great piece that runs about fourteen minutes long and is a conversation with director Brad Bird and chef Thomas Keller. They both talk about their history and getting started in their respective businesses and go much more in depth into how they live their daily lives at work. It’s quite interesting how the comparisons between directing a film and running a restaurant are truly similar.
Trailers – Wall•E, 101 Dalmatians: 2-Disc Special Edition, Snow Buddies, and Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume One
The Inside Pulse
While it’s true that the special features are very few and leave a lot to be desired, you all know that sooner or later Disney is going to release the two-disc special edition of Ratatouille as they do with everything else. Patience is a virtue, but not when it comes to this film. You’ll want the special edition. I know I do. But don’t deprive yourself of this wonderful film any longer then you have to. I’ll also add that they aren’t much, but watch the main menu of the DVD for a while and play around, there are always Easter Eggs to be found. And for those who happened to catch it in theatres; just go buy it because it is blatantly obvious that you’re chomping at the bit to see it again. For families with kids, it is a film they will love as all Disney films have been. Yet for those without children, even though you love what Disney and Pixar have given us so far, this one’s for you. It is a great story filled with laughs and heartache that will keep you glued to your seat and wishing you could become a chef yourself. Bravo, fantastique.