G Dir: Brad Bird | Disney | 111 min.
Matt Brighton | January 28th, 2012
Plot: What’s it about?
Ever since “Toy Story” hit theaters over a decade ago, it has raised the bar in terms of animation. Since then audiences have been deluged with all sorts of 3-D animation and while most are good, some aren’t so memorable. I want to focus on the good here and after sitting through the enjoyable “Ratatouille” I can say that it’s one of the better Pixar movies that I’ve had the pleasure of watching. There seems to be a trio responsible for most of the good Pixar films: Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird and John Lasseter. Now those three names are literally the stand outs from the thousands who have had something to do with all of Pixar’s films, but when it comes right down to it the director is someone who stands out as getting the credit. Admittedly, making a feature film about a rodent seemed like a challenge in itself. I mean, of all the loveable creatures out there why would we want Remy the Rat gracing our screens? As it turns out, that very question was asked by the filmmakers and I’d say they did a pretty good job of humanizing the rodent, while bearing in mind that the lead character was to be, in fact, a rat. “Ratatouille” also didn’t feature a lot of big names doing the voiceover work, either. A-list stars like Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Ellen Degeneres, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are no where to be found in the cast. Instead we get a wider variety of names like Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm and Peter O’Toole. Different? Yes. But as they say, different is good (and so is this movie).
Let’s get one thing straight, we’re meant to see this movie from Remy’s (voiced by Patton Oswalt) point of view. In fact, there’s a deleted scene that was labeled as such purely because it didn’t show the movie from Remy’s point of view. We see and experience all of the ups and downs that the rodent faces and as such, it makes for a much more interesting ride. Remy is gifted as a rat in that he has a more refined sense of smell. He’s used to detect rat poison with his fellow “siblings” until he’s unexpectedly separated from his loved ones and washes up as Gusteau’s, a once great French restaurant that has just lost it’s star chef (voiced by Brad Garrett). Remy starts observe the new janitor, Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano) and the two become friends as Remy helps Linguini rise through the ranks to become a great chef. Things further develop when it’s discovered that Linguini is actually the son of the late chef, Gusteau. He’s promoted and the restaurant is now his but he can’t let the secret out that his success is due to that of a…rat. Naturally enemies come out of the woodwork and there are all sorts of folks wanting Linguini to fail. Will he be discovered or will Linguini and Remy find a way to make it all work out?
I have to admit that there’s something about “Ratatouille” that made me instantly like it. The Pixar movies feature characters that are so real and likeable (or un-likable) that a connection is bound to happen. I put aside my natural disdain for chefs (so self-righteous they are) and rodents (last year I saw a mouse climb out of my toaster) and found something that was very enjoyable. As with all of the Pixar movies, there’s something for everyone. Kids will love the cute characters, but the dialogue is witty enough for adults to enjoy themselves as well. Until seeing “Ratatouille”, I have to say that my favorite Pixar flick was “The Incredibles”, coincidentally enough directed by Brad Bird. Bird has a real knack for this sort of thing and perhaps it’s no coincidence that he worked on my favorite television show, “The Simpson’s”. “Ratatouille” has something for everyone and it continues the trend of Disney’s wonderful Pixar movies. There’s Pixar and then there’s the rest if you ask me.
Video: How does it look?
As with the recent “Cars” on Blu-ray, “Ratatouille” is another perfect example of how amazingly good something can look on disc if all the elements are there. I’ll probably run out of adjectives here, but let’s just say that computer animation on a HD format (be it Blu-ray or HD DVD) will look absolutely splendid no matter which way you slice it. Colors are rich and robust and not even the slightest hint of an error can be found. We can see the little hairs on the end of all the rat’s noses and be that a good thing or not, it’s the kind of detail that screams high definition at its finest. I honestly don’t think I could find anything wrong with this if I saw it on a screen three times the size of mine, it’s not that it’s just good, it’s perfect.
Audio: How does it sound?
While “Ratatouille” looks amazing, it sounds nearly as good. I can remember a bevy of scenes that used all five speakers to great effect. Cans falling, little nuances here and there and even the LFE kicked in during a few scenes to give the soundtrack a little “oomph.” Dialogue is, of course, very natural and though some of the French accents can be a bit fake and hard to understand, that’s the point. Michael Giaccono’s wonderful score sounds extremely pleasant emanating out of all the speakers and I’m hard-pressed to find much else to say. While it won’t blow you away like some other movies do, this rich and robust track adds life to the movie (not like it needs it).
Supplements: What are the extras?
At first glance, “Ratatouille” doesn’t seem to have many supplements, but dig a little deeper and you’re in for quite the surprise. We start out with a history of rats, narrated by our two rat friends: Emile and Remy. This is done in 2-D animation (and there’s a featurette on the disc detailing how it was done) and shown in HD and darn it if I didn’t even learn a thing or two. Looking at the “whole menu” we’re treated to a variety of features ranging from deleted scenes to featurettes and documentaries. The jewel in the crown is the Blu-ray Java enhanced game in which you’re Linguini and you must keep up with the orders to win the game. I personally wasn’t very good at this game so I quit when the going got bad. We get a series of three deleted scenes, shown in a very rough format but with explanation from the director and even scored with music as well. There are a series of 13 featurettes dealing with production design and the script from concept to completion including some animation briefings.
This might be a bit redundant, but two Pixar animation shorts are also included but they appear on the recent “Pixar Animation Shorts” Blu-ray disc as well. Essentially these are a few minute shorts that are of the same concept and quality of the Pixar movies. “Lifted” and “Your Friend the Rat” are the two included and provide a few chuckles. There’s a 70 minute documentary included, though it’s broken up into several different sections and can be viewed as a whole or you can select the individual portions. Some trailers are also included as well as a very nice tribute to Pixar artist, Dan Lee. Mr. Lee died of cancer halfway into the making of “Ratatouille” and his co-workers reflect on him and his influence in several Pixar movies. All in all, “Ratatouille” delivers on so many levels the question isn’t why should you have this in your collection; it’s why shouldn’t you.
- (2.40:1) Aspect Ratio
- Video Codec: AVC
- Audio: Dolby Digital
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scene(s)
- Digital Copy
- 1 Disc Set