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Home > Movies > Ratatouille


Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: G
  • Director: Brad Bird   Cast: Patton Oswalt, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm
  • Running Time: 110 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review


Animation, Comedy, Family


Brad Lewis



Release Date

Jun 29, 2007

Release Notes


Official Website


Remember a few months back, when cameras captured a Village KFC teeming with rats? The new Pixar film Ratatouille raises the possibility that the rats might have improved KFC’s food. Our Parisian rat hero, Remy, does not share his family’s taste for garbage. He loves fresh, local ingredients combined in new and unexpected ways. He wants to cook, and his inspiration is a famous chef named Gusteau whose motto was “Anyone can cook”—but who was driven to his grave by the condemnation of a cadaverous critic (the Grim Eater). It’s an archetypal story: a young person—rodent—who insists on going his own way in the face of a disapproving dad and a society that can see him in only one role. What makes the tale seem less sentimental, less wearyingly familiar, is the fundamental visceral disconnect of its happiest images: rat in kitchen … rat on stovetop … rat in walk-in fridge with pink nose sniffing food … ewwwww …

Brad Bird wrote and directed Ratatouille and tops his previous work. Since his work includes The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, this puts him somewhere between Chuck Jones and Michelangelo. He uses dimensionality the way Spielberg does: His characters seize the foreground, making you sit up like a rat catching a whiff of cheese—maybe Parmigiano-Reggiano shaved lightly over truffle-scented … sorry. Ratatouille is Pinocchio for foodies. It’s Anthony Bourdain and Bill Buford with chases. Jaw-dropping chases: With a hero who’s a rat and enchantingly light on his feet, the space is endlessly subdivided. The world is constantly opening up and whizzing by. Now we’re dropping to the floor, flipping under a table, bursting through a crack, racing along a pipe …

Bird clearly knows the great silent clowns: The slapstick he devises is balletic. Remy hooks up with a floppy young garbage hauler called Linguini who gets credit for the rat’s first, triumphant culinary improvisation. (“You know how to cook and I know how to appear human,” enthuses Linguini.) The rat can’t speak (at least so humans in the movie can understand; we hear the vocal stylings of Patton Oswalt, who has the snap of a young Richard Dreyfuss)—so he crouches under the youth’s toque and pulls his red hair to signal left or right.

I’ve dwelt on Bird, but this is a high-water mark for everyone at Pixar—and for the refreshingly unbilled vocalists, who include Brian Dennehy and Janeane Garofalo. As the critic, a sepulchral figure out of Charles Addams, Peter O’Toole drops his voice to inhuman depths. Critics get less respect than rats.

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