Ratatouille is a wonderful film from the excellent Pixar Animation studios. To confess, the first Pixar film I saw was Cars, an unfortunate choice since it really didn’t showcase Pixar’s real strengths though still better than most films cranked out by Hollywood.
The wonderful thing about Ratatouille is that despite targeting the children’s market, although I doubt this is really accurate regarding Pixar, the story doesn’t try to sugar coat things to the point of nauseam.
This story revolves around a luckless klutz named Linguini who finally manages to land a job as a garbage boy at a Paris restaurant on the strength of a recommendation or more like plea from a deceased mother who also happens to be the secret child of an also deceased world renowned chef (who died from shock after a scathing review from a prestigious critic) and a rat who happens to be a truly talented chef trapped in a rat’s body.
Gusteau is the name of the dead chef and his philosophy of life is "anyone can cook." The beauty of this film is that it doesn’t bastardise the message in an idealistic mush but clearly draws the line, preaching a true meritocracy. The "anyone" clearly means "anyone with talent" should be given the opportunity to express their true calling.
The adventure starts when the rat and boy (who could not cook a microwave dish if his life depended on it) discover that the rat can control the boy by pulling on his hair. Thus, the rat who can never possibly seek employment in his true calling can express himself by remotely controlling the genetic heir to the throne. Of course, this arrangement was not meant to last.
Yet, throughout the twists and turns, Remy the rat is clearly the one with the talent and the boy is and always will be just a puppet as far as cooking is concerned. Despite his pedigree and inheritance (finally claimed), he will never ever be cut out to live the life of a chef. Any other garbage production would pursue a storyline where the boy suddenly"discovers" his hidden talent as a chef, causing friction with the rat or some other happy ending. That is not the case with this film, yet there is a happy ending that doesn’t feel like you downed a gallon of sugar syrup. Everybody has a calling, as Linguini eventually finds his true talent, and each should be happy fulfilling it.
A wonderful storyline alone does not make a Pixar animation. This feature not only showcases some beautifully captured landscapes of Paris (including a breathtaking night scape) but thrilling chase scenes filled with some masterful production. The rats move like rats, yet they are very human in the expression of their emotions. So much of it is realistic that it makes you wonder when we’ll have Hollywood live actor-quality "animation" films.
The geek appeal of Pixar films are the masterful storylines mixed with the truly amazing technical firepower that powers these feature productions. A true Renaissance house.