Stories Of Nerdy Adventures (Now With 100% More Cetaceans)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
All year round, I've seen movies that range from spectacularly bad like Transformers, to mediocre like the Fantastic Four sequel, to fun and entertaining movies like TMNT and Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. However, for the entire year I have not seen a movie that I could say was magnificently good... until now. Brad Bird, the director who brought us The Incredibles is back with Ratatouille, Pixar's latest 3D animated flick. Brad Bird never disappoints. This movie is brilliant. If you haven't seen it yet, stop reading now as there are spoilers ahead.
The story is about a rat named Rémy, who has a superb sense of smell. Despite being a rat, he enjoys good food, and dreams of being a chef like his hero, a famous French chef named Auguste Gusteau who has one of the finest restaurants in Paris. However, his family has assigned him the mundane job of sniffing food for poison, and he frequently sneaks around looking for good food in the kitchen of the house that his family hides out in. He learns to read the cookbook of the little old lady that lives there, and experiments with various herbs and condiments. One day, when the old lady discovers the colony of rats living in her attic, she chases them away with a huge gun, and the rats are swept away in a sewer. Rémy gets seperated from his family and end up in Paris, underneath where Gusteau's famed restaurant is. Gusteau himself had recently passed away, and the place is run by a grouchy sous-cook named Skinner.
Incidentally, a dorky new guy named Linguini is hired at the restaurant as the janitor, and when Linguini accidentally spills the soup, he tries (unsuccessfully) to concoct a new pot. Rémy, outraged at Linguini's incompetence, decides to sneak down and help out. Linguini catches Rémy in the act, and nabs him before anyone can see the little rat. However, the nasty Skinner catches Linguini messing with the soup. Linguini's soup had already been served, and to everyone's amazement the customers love it.
Skinner grudgingly hires Linguini as a cook, but since he cannot actually cook, Linguini forms an alliance with Rémy where the little rat hides under his hat and controls him like a culinary battlemech by tugging on his hair (it works, somehow). Linguini is made an apprentice to Colette, a tough woman cook who trains him mercilessly. Linguini, with the help of Rémy, makes the best dishes and Gusteau's restaurant surges in popularity. This doesn't go down well with Skinner, who secretly discovers that Linguini is actually Gusteau's heir. Skinner also suspects something is fishy when he keeps seeing glimpses of a rat apparently interacting with Linguini. Skinner is eventually kicked out of the restaurant, and he isn't happy.
The rest of the movie centers on Skinner trying to bust Linguini, as the restaurant faces a huge challenge as the snobbish and arrogant food critic Anton Ego makes an appearance at the restaurant to critique it to death. Linguini does eventually gets found out, and his entire kitchen staff walks out on the night of Ego's visit except Colette. To save Linguini, Rémy's entire family of rodents show up at the kitchen to help cook (this is a delightfully cute scene). Rémy makes ratatouille for Ego, and he finds it so good he is reminded of his own mother's cooking back when he was a child. Ego asks to meet the chef, and he is very, very surprised when he finds out it's a rat. He goes back a changed man, humbled by the experience, and writes a very flattering review.
However, Gusteau's restaurant is shut down because a health inspector (tipped off by a vengeful Skinner) discovers the kitchen is full of rats. However, Linguini, Colette and Rémy start up a successful little bistro called La Ratatouille, financed by Anton Ego.
I can't think of a single flaw in this movie. The animation is beautiful, the voice acting is superb, the pacing is good, the story is brilliant, the direction and set design and everything else is top notch. This wonderful little movie is like a fine meal, which washes away all of the lingering bad taste from the previous awful duds I've seen this year.