Directors: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
Screenwriter: Brad Bird
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Peter O’Toole, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Brad Bird
Who could have predicted the sheer brilliance and originality that bursts out of a movie which stars a rodent with dreams of becoming a chef? If you’re yet to see the masterpiece that is Ratatouille (2007), the premise will seem entirely bizarre, but in that lies the answer to this Pixar release’s global success.
Today, Disney’s Pixar is a household name and a critically acclaimed company. Back in 2007, the studio had fewer than 10 features under their belt, though all were well-respected animated offerings. Ratatouille (2007) followed the release of classics like Toy Story (1995), Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Finding Nemo (2003). Pixar were simply outdoing themselves time and time again. Ratatouille would prove to be their eighth success in a row. The film, directed by Brad Bird, is now the seventh highest-grossing Pixar film of all time; it is one of Pixar’s biggest success stories.
Filled with witty French sarcasm and an abundance of iconic imagery, it is hard to think about food without thinking of the ‘little chef’ hidden under Linguini’s toque. The animation team behind Ratatouille proved that they had refined their skills since the studio’s first release, providing us with beautiful visuals and breathtaking details in every frame. From the gorgeously animated Parisian skyline to the immense attention when curating hundreds of scurrying rats, it is hard to believe Pixar only had nine months to animate the entire 111-minute feature. Ratatouille (2007) transports us into the life of a rat, being small but feared, harnessing skills learned from A Bug’s Life (1998) to build an entire world that humans would never usually get to experience.
Pixar combine their sheer brilliance when it comes to animation with an outstanding pack of unique voice actors. Patton Oswalt lends his voice to Remy, known for his comedic timing and goofy undertone. Oswalt is undeniably likeable, offering a self-assured but never prickly persona. Alongside Lou Romano as clumsy human side-kick Alfredo Linguini, Brad Garrett as the almighty voice of reason Gusteau, and the iconic Peter O’Toole as the sinister villian Anton Ego, the cast overdelivers. As a group, they present distinct stylings that embody the very essence of their characters and add to the film’s overall charm.
This film is a whimsical display of encouragement and belief: if Remy the rat can achieve his dreams and work through adversity, so can you. Pixar encourage this inner self belief in many of their features – Up (2009), Brave (2013) and Luca (2021), to name a few. Ratatouille (2007) asks you to look past what’s on the outside and embrace what lies beneath. Remy’s relationship with Linguini evolves into one of the most adorable duos in Pixar history. Their love and admiration for one another ensures Ratatouille is one of the most human stories, despite the lead character being a rat.
Director Brad Bird was hot-off-the-press from his 2004 success The Incredibles when he co-directed Ratatouille. From the outside it is hard to see the similarities between the two films, but they both champion showcasing your talents, embracing your own ability and sharing that ability with other people. Remy is encouraged to hide in the shadows and suppress his passion for food just as Mr. Incredible must hide his true self from the public. Both characters have a deep passion but have been ridiculed or judged by the world, resulting in doubt and disbelief. Of course, both features showcase the journey to relative greatness.
Composer Michael Giacchino, whose music you’ve heard in The Incredibles (2004), Up (2009), Inside Out (2015) and Coco (2017), won a Grammy for his work on Ratatouille (2007) along with a nomination for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards. Adding French flair to orchestral sounds with guitars, violins and even an accordion, the score has the power to independently tell a story without any added visuals.
The most impactful sound from the feature’s score is the title song ‘Le Festin’, (meaning ‘The Feast’ in English), which brings to life the soul of France with the effortless voice of French artist Camille. Catapulting audiences into the world of Ratatouille within an instant, Giacchino composes thematically, using the primary themes from the film to curate his music; each theme present in the text is accompanied by music that elevates the movie to a whole new level.
And like leaving the best mouth full until last, all of this hard work and dedication allows Ratatouille to present the most mouth-watering food you’ll ever see on screen – you can almost smell the French cuisine.
Ratatouille (2007) is a film about identity. People may judge or discriminate against you due to your appearance or background, but what truly matters is what’s inside. This film has unlocked the secret ingredient to producing a timeless classic, everyone has the potential to follow their dreams and succeed… even Parisian rats.
Written by Lydia Bowen-Williams
Website: Film Probe