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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Computer Animation > Food > Ratatouille (Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Disney/Pixar)

Ratatouille (Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Disney/Pixar)


Picture: A-/B+†††† Sound: A-/B†††† Extras: B+/B†††† Film: A-



Can a chef who canít cook and a rat who can with an expertise in cuisine juggle a relationship and keep a secret that they are working together without anyone ever knowing?



Ratatouille has flavor, texture, and a just dash of brilliance.The Studio that started it all still manages to capture the magic that remains in our hearts.Every film produced from Disney/Pixar studios without exception manages to give this reviewer chills, a smile, laughter, and the perspective to remember why animation is one of the greatest mediums of expression. Now for your enjoyment and many future generationsí enjoyment on DVD is Ratatouille.


The story, whereas creative and insanely imaginative, is not difficult to understand.The rodent inspired film follows a rat named Remy who has what you could call an exceptional gift for taste and smell.Remy is a cook or at least aspires to be one.Living in the country side outside Paris, Remy and his huge family live in a ratsí nest in the attic above an old womanís house.Remy getting a bit over-creative and a bit overzealous with his cooking skills while in the old womanís kitchen reveals his families covert hiding, food scavenging operation.Washed away and separated from his family after an epic escape from the butt of the shotgun, Remy finds himself at the doorsteps of his cooking heroís restaurant Gusteauís.Gusteau, whose book Anyone Can Cook inspired millions including Remy, has recently passed away and with the restaurant now in the hands of his former Sous-Chef (Skinner who is voiced by Ian Holm) the restaurant is quickly losing steam.


Remy, inspired by a little chef in his head, decided to take a peak inside Gusteauís Restaurant.What he saw amazed and excited him; with the exception of the new and clumsy garbage boy (Linguini).Linguini being his awkward self manages to knock over that nightís soup special and in a desperate attempt to not get fired he begins filling the pot with whatever ingredients he can get his hands on; in turn making for a quite disgusting concoction.Remy seeing the opportunity to try out his skills, while helping out the restaurant begins to fix Linguiniís mess.The only problem, he gets caught.Ordered to destroy the rat Linguini goes to the river to toss the jarred rodent in, but quickly discovers there is more to this spice flaunting rodent than there appears.From this moment on a hilarious and imaginative relationship ensues that will captivate an audience.


The voice acting of the film is excellently cast, utilizing all forms of talent from that of Janeane Garofalo all the way to the classic Peter OíToole as the chilling Food Critic Anton Ego.As always the Pixar team does their homework, allowing the real world to inspire them.For this film in particular, Brad Bird (who replaced Jan Pinkava as director in 2005) looked to many famous French chefs and actors to help create a comedic yet natural atmosphere.It was a point of Birdís to emphasize the physical comedy without diminishing the beauty and romance of Paris.Even beyond human inspiration, the Pixar team spent the better part of a year studying both rats and the workings of a traditional commercial kitchen.Overall, letís just say the end result is impressive.


Though it is getting difficult to watch the standard versions of DVDs when Disney is putting out such brilliantly fantastic high definition Blu-rays, the standard DVD format of Ratatouille, manages to remain impressive in picture, sound, and extras.The picture, presented in an excellent 2.35 X 1 aspect ratio, remains amazingly crisp and solid throughout with the colors balanced as well as little too no light/dark issues.However, it is the 1080p Blu-ray delivering top-notch image still very noticeably better than the standard DVD and overall playback that makes it one of the top CG playback titles in either HD format, joining gems like Meet The Robinsons, Cars and Chicken Little.This too will be a demo for many years to come.


The PCM 24/48 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray is especially impressive, with another demo-quality, state-of-the-art mix typical of Pixar features, with remarkable soundfield, creative use of sound design and richness & fullness that too is demo quality.Both versions offer sound quality excellent in its Disney standard of Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surrounds, though the Blu-ray Dolby Digital is a bit better than that of the DVD.  The instrumental soundtrack used for the film also truly comes alive with its 5.1 surrounds giving the scenes inspiring depth and sound texture aspects that many other films can not live up to.


The extras on both versions of this Pixar film are actually not to plentiful but offers fans a featurette comparing Brad Birdís vision of Ratatouille to that of a chef that inspired part of the film, a few deleted scenes with commentaries, and two amazing shorts.The shorts are the best part, with one entitled ĎYour Friend the Ratí that has never been seen before and chronicles why humans and rats were made for each other.The short is both funny and imaginative; just as with everything Pixar.


The Blu-ray adds exclusive extras that are more of what you would expect for such a high profile title including deleted scenes, Cine-Explore: The Ultimate Behind-The-Scenes Experience and Gusteauís Gourmet Game for some amusing fun trying to keep up with cooking orders.


As has been said, you look at examples of people like that and you understand what makes them great, commitment.Pixar is establishing a legacy here that can and will pass on to future generations.With passion and talent of this nature it is no surprise that the coupling of Disney with Pixar has only led to greatness.One of the ending lines of the film was truly inspiring to this reviewer personally and will probably in many ways make me think twice in the future.As stated by the character Anton Ego:


In many ways, the work of a critic is easy.We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment.We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source.To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement.They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook.But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant.Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France.I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.



In the end, my opinion of this film and many other films may be forgotten as quickly as they were read, but what will remain is this film.It might simply just be another animated feature, but this critic says and feels it is much more.Ratatouille is an inspiration to the film world that creativity is still around and that it thrives in the hearts and minds of those like the innovative souls at Disney/Pixar.One mouse changed the world in unimaginable ways before, maybe this time one rat can do the same.



-†† Michael P Dougherty II


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