It’s been a long time since I first saw this film. Over 10 years for sure. I still have a tough time spelling out the name to be honest. I also forgot that it was a Pixar film so it’s cool to see their track record get longer and longer. It’s definitely a fun film, although a step down from many of their other titles thanks to the weak cast and poorly handled romance. It is fun seeing the food though and as I’m always hungry, I always enjoy seeing food. I’m hungry even while writing this review, but I must press on!
The film starts off by showing us a famous Chef named Gusteau. His restaurant was known as an amazing 5 Star place, but one day the legendary food critic, Ego showed up. He didn’t like the food so his review took the restaurant down by a star and then Gusteau quickly died from the stress so it dropped another star. The place is under tough times right now, but the new owner, Skinner is making the best of it. He’s selling out the company name to any microwave and frozen food company that will take them. If the restaurant is going to go under soon, they may as well make some money in the meantime. He actually has the right idea here. Unfortunately for him, his plans are put in danger when Gusteau’s secret son shows up and he has the right to inherit the place. Can Skinner keep the kid in the dark until he officially takes ownership of the place or will Linguini figure out the shady plot? Meanwhile there is a Rat named Remy who is a super cook and controls Linguini by pulling on his hair. He is the secret behind the boy’s genius.
While the film does go out of its way to try and make the main Rat hygenienic, I can admit that I probably wouldn’t want him in my kitchen. I’m cool with Dogs running around since it’s not like they’re actually handling the ingredients. Just thinking of a rat grabbing all of the foods and making it is a little tough to swallow though. So, while it’s a cool plot, I wouldn’t want to be one of the people who ate at the restaurant. Imagine your reaction when you found out the truth one day thanks to the newspaper. It would definitely be pretty brutal.
Remy is the main Rat and he is definitely enthusiastic about cooking. He’s a likable enough lead although letting his family pressure him into stealing was definitely a big flaw. I understand it working once, but once it became a regular thing that became a problem. While not as bad as Linguini, Remy also wasn’t a very good character. He definitely needed more will power if he was to succeed here. Skinner is the mean boss who tries to undercut Linguini at every point. He’s definitely a villain and doesn’t play fair. Still, he’s a fun enough character so you can actually root for him throughout the movie. While he is portrayed in a negative light for selling out, it actually does make sense. I think he probably would have gotten the restaurant back to 4 stars at some point, but he would have to learn to stop playing it safe. It sounds like he had yet to come up with a single new recipe which is a problem.
Linguini is a really bad character. He has very low amounts of self confidence right out of the gate which allows everyone to walk all over him. He doesn’t stand up for himself and is totally fine with taking credit for someone else’s achievements. He was willing to drown Remy before realizing that the Rat may have some intelligence. There’s just nothing to like about this guy and naturally his ego takes him over during the second half as well. While I don’t expect all main characters to be very good, I do expect them not to be actively awful. I was actually rooting for Skinner over Linguini the whole time. At least Skinner actually can cook as opposed to letting someone else do it for him. While everyone basically acted like traitors for running out on Linguini, I didn’t mind as much as I would have if he was a good character. Also, having a rat in the kitchen certainly isn’t sanitary so I can see their side of the argument.
Gusteau actually isn’t a good character either. If you think about it, he possibly destroyed himself over a single bad review. He should have just kept on cooking and tried to convince Ego that the restaurant was good. He threw in the towel very quickly so even though this is glossed over I can’t forget it very easily. Colette is a good character until she meets up with Linguini. She’s tough and reminds everyone of this when she’s on screen. She had to earn her spot in the restaurant and it was apparently a very tough road. A prequel about her moving up the ranks would probably be fun. Ego is a good antagonist. He’s apparently not a very bad guy even though he definitely acts the part. Ego just wants to have good food like when he was a kid and I guess nothing can live up to that standard so he has fun destroying careers in the meantime. This works pretty well and I just think they shouldn’t have been to drastic with his character change by the end. It was handled reasonably well though and turning him into an investor was a good move.
As you would expect from Pixar, the animation is pretty good. The characters are clear and the food looks good. To be honest I would have liked to have seen some more food during the movie since we actually didn’t get too many dishes. I suppose food was the setting, but not necessarily the most important part of the film though so it couldn’t be helped. There isn’t much f a soundtrack to go along with the animation though so I guess I can’t say that the package is complete.
The pacing for the film is pretty good. At most, you just won’t care about the rat plots as much as the human ones. Still, they do have some scary scenes like the mice by the window moment. You also get a good look at the Rat lifestyle and can then really appreciate why Remy would want to get out of there so quickly. One aspect where the film wasn’t as strong was in the romance though. It’s very rushed and unfortunately poorly handled. Colette is the tough character of the film and she has sacrificed a lot to get here. There’s no real indication of a romance between the two characters until it just suddenly happens in the back alley. It wasn’t even Linguini’s choice as the rat forced this to start. It just comes out of left field and adds nothing to the film. It’s just here to ensure that the film has some romance when in reality it didn’t need this element. It should have just stayed as a nice cooking movie with a Rat as the Chef. That’s already all the plot that you need.
If you think about it, most of the drama in the film could have been avoided if Linguini was actually intelligent. Constantly taking Remy out in public was just tempting trouble and giving Remy an equal share of the rewards would have been easy. Maybe he couldn’t actually tell the world about Remy, but giving him a bunch of new foods and recipes to try out during the day would have helped. Declining any interviews that weren’t 100% necessary would have also been good. Linguini just needed to stay grateful to Remy and focus on the cooking. That wouldn’t have even been too hard.
Overall, Ratatouille is a good film, but one that adds too many unnecessary elements. The romance just should not have been here. The characters also aren’t that likable. Linguini is quite possibly the weakest Pixar lead that I’ve seen. I can’t think of all the main characters off the top of my head, but from the ones that come to mind he would definitely take the title. Even when he gets braver by the end it isn’t by much. Watch this film for the food, but just do your best to tune out the main character. I’d still recommend checking this film out. It’s not a master piece, but it’s an enjoyable enough film that will keep you entertained. If they ever do a sequel, then I want a Cooking Contest. We don’t get enough of those in films and those are very entertaining. It also forces the cooks to cook at a higher level in order to beat out their rivals.