Welcome to the Pixar Rewind! Over the next couple weeks, we at Rotoscopers will analyzeevery Pixar film ever, and what makes each one so great. At the end of the series, and after the release of ‘Inside Out,’ we will have a fan vote to determine which film is the best of them all!
In regard to Ratatouille, let me just start by saying what we are all thinking: Who thinks of a story like this? No, no, no, hear me out! By the time Ratatouille was released, Pixar was well known for its emotional, heartfelt, and creative stories, but usually its concepts were not too far out there. Movies looking at the lives and actions of toys when their owners aren’t watching? Sure, I mean, what kid hasn’t thought (or prayed) that their toys were really like that? A movie that follows a family of superheroes, their day-to-day activities and their battle against a villain who wants to kill them all? Sure, I can buy that! There are many superhero movies! But a movie about a rat who falls in love with cooking and then proceeds to become a chef by sitting on top of a man’s head and pulling his hair in order for him to act the way the rat wants him to? Hmm… Yeah, what kind of person would dream up a story like that? Oh, right, Brad Bird.
In all honesty, it took me quite a while to actually see this movie after it was released. At this point in time, I was a high school student and was ‘too cool’ to see animated movies anymore, so it just kind of fell to the wayside. It wasn’t until a few years later, when I started to watch anything that had anything to do with food (which is a thing that I still do by the way), that I actually saw this movie and realized how flat our brilliant it is. Suffice it to say, Ratatouille quickly shot up into my list of my favourite Pixar movies.
Alright, let me now attempt to do a plot summary of this mouthwatering morsel. While the movie does focus on two characters, the real protagonist of Ratatouille is Remy, a common sewer rat blessed with an extraordinary nose and pallet. Tired of living in a disgusting hovel and eating garbage every day, Remy starts to explore his surroundings and stumbles upon the house of an old lady who always stocks her house with the best and freshest ingredients! However, after an unfortunate incident, one that includes a nightgown, a shotgun, a ceiling filling with a thousand rats, and a sewer waterfall, Remy becomes separated from his family. Although he is initially scared beyond belief, his conscience (which takes the form of legendary French chef, Gusteau) compels him to look around and explore his surroundings! It doesn’t take long for Remy to realize he is in Paris, one of the food capitals of the world! Fate has an interesting plan for Remy, however, as the rat stumbles upon Linguini, a down on his luck kind of guy who recently started working at Gusteau’s, the once famous restaurant in Paris (and yes, it belonged to the man who is now Remy’s conscience). Unable to control himself, Remy goes into the kitchen and starts to cook a soup, which everyone loves, but they all think Linguini is the chef. Eventually, Linguini finds out about Remy and what he can do, and the two strike a bargain. Remy can fulfill his dream of being a chef by controlling Linguini through his hair and Linguini can keep his job at the once prestigious restaurant. Hilarity ensues.
So, to no one’s surprise, Ratatouille’s plot is an absolute delight to experience. The movie flows from plot point to plot point smoothly and with a good pace, packing jokes and heartfelt moments in at every turn. Also, for me at least, if you release a movie about food or a reality TV show about food, I will watch it without question, no matter the actual quality of the film. And boy howdy, does this film have some gorgeous food imagery to fulfill your psychological hunger whilst you watch the movie. I could only imagine the amount of times French Restaurants around the world were asked to make ratatouille after this movie released (coincidentally, one of my friends actually got her French friends to make her ratatouille one night after watching this movie… Apparently, regular ratatouille is quite vile).
Like most Pixar movies, Ratatouille has a simple yet universal theme that runs throughout the film. The movie, through Linguini and Remy, tells its audience to dream big and work hard. Because, no matter what obstacles you may have to overcome in your life, your dreams can always be achieved if you put in the effort. Is it a tried and true theme? Yes, but it is used so often because many people, especially kids and teenagers, need to be convinced that they can do anything with their lives and with the potential that they have stored inside them. Seriously, Remy is a rat who ends up as the head chef at a restaurant in Paris, France… Yeah, just think about all the obstacles that he had to overcome to get that gig. So, whenever you feel like you may want to give up on chasing your dream, just think and say to yourself: What Would Remy Do (boy, that was cheesy)?
Pixar continues its streak of memorable supporting characters in Ratatouille. Again, there really are too many too talk about, but most of them are included in Remy’s rat family or the staff at Gusteau’s restaurant. Personally, my two favourite side characters are Colette, Gusteau’s rotisseur, and Anton Ego, the scary food critic who was responsible for the downfall of Gusteau’s popularity many years ago. Colette is somewhat of a mentor figure to Linguini, even though she doesn’t realize how Linguini is cooking, and she is quite supportive of him. Unsurprisingly, the two eventually start a romantic relationship. However, after Linguini reveals that the only reason he can cook is because Remy controls him through his hair, Colette is shocked and disgusted and storms off… for a couple minutes. Then, she comes back. I always liked that part. Whether it was because of her feelings for Linguini, her fascination with the situation, or just because she respects good food no matter where it comes from, I always applauded her character for coming back and helping Linguini.
Then there is Anton Ego, one of the “villains” of this story. I put villain in quotation marks because, unlike traditional villains, Ego is not really evil. Like so many of us in life, he just lost his way a little while ago. I imagine that it can be quite draining to always be forced to give your opinion on everything you eat and to be forced through the whole restaurant rating process, so it makes sense that Ego’s heart starts to harden to real emotions and real, good food. But, all it takes is a little taste of home (through Remy’s signature ratatouille) to re-open all the positive emotions and feelings that Ego used to let flow through his body. All this happens in a flashback montage that always makes me tear up a little. You know, as Pixar movies tend to make all of us do.
But Cole, what about the visual and audible aesthetics of the movie? Yeah, I am getting there. As I have already stated, there are so many wonderful images of food present in this movie, but the beauty doesn’t stop there. Sure, the rats are still kind of gross and clash with, well, everything else in the movie, but the version of Paris that Pixar creates is bright, lively, and flat out gorgeous. If I hadn’t wanted to go to Paris already before I saw this movie, I definitely would want to go now. The creators of the film also paired the wonderful imagery with some classic French music. It’s not distracting, nor particularly memorable, but it does the trick and definitely puts you in the mood for some French food!
If you don’t like rats, you may not be able to get through this movie. My mother, a 50-something year old woman, had to leave about 30 minutes into this movie when we watched it at home, because she just could not stand the rats. To this day, she has never seen the entirety of this movie. But, for everyone else, don’t be a fool like me! Go see this movie as soon as you can! For those who have already seen it, go watch it again! This is a movie that, like a fine bottle of French wine, only gets better with age.
What do you think of Pixar’s Ratatouille? Is it your favorite Pixar movie?
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Edited by: Hannah Wilkes