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RATATOUILLE

SYNOPSIS:
Remy (voice of Patton Oswalt) has a gift all too rare in rats: the ability to cook. His hero is famous dead French chef Auguste Gusteau, whose mantra is 'anyone can cook' - but only a cook who takes risks can become a chef. When fate delivers Remy inside Gusteau's (Brad Garrett) legacy restaurant in Paris, he faces certain death if discovered, but for a lucky encounter with the newly hired garbage boy, Linguini (Lou Romano), with whom he makes a deal. Linguini is about to be fired unless he can replicate the delicious soup that in fact Remy helped secretly to cook. Linguini agrees to keep Remy safely hidden as his own little chef helper, in return for Remy's exceptional cooking being in Luigi's name. But the pair have to evade the vile tempered head chef Skinner (Ian Holm), negotiate the smart and ambitious young female chef Colette (Janeane Garofalo) - and Remy has to explain his inexplicable situation to his rat family and friends with whom he is reunited after their flight in the sewers, which led Remy to his new life. And then there's the all-powerful and feared food critic, Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole), to face.

Review by Louise Keller:
Only the fearless can be great, esteemed Chef Gusteau tells Remy, the little rat with a highly developed sense of taste and smell. In this meticulously observed, sharp, witty and enjoyable animated comedy from The Incredibles creator Brad Bird, Remy creates his own recipe for life as he pursues his impossible dream to be a chef. Every good chef confides that his culinary artistry depends on his ingredients, and in Ratatouille, Bird has amassed only the best. The magic of the film begins with wonderful storytelling, beautifully drawn characters and an endearing little hero who wins our hearts from the outset.

When we first meet Remy, it is in a little cottage in the country, where he delights in watching cooking shows on television and reading recipes from his Chef idol's best selling book 'Anyone Can Cook'. But life is hard if you're a rat, and a gun-toting little old lady prompts a hazardous watery escape for Remy, who suddenly finds himself not only in the city that is home to haute cuisine, but in Gusteau's restaurant. Every delicious situation is finger-licking good as the shy, clumsy Linguini becomes Remy's puppet, the rat-puppeteer holding onto large tufts of the novice-chef's hair and tugging them decisively, manipulating his every move. So real is the atmosphere in the kitchen, we can almost smell the aroma. This is where temperamental Chef Skinner snarls 'Welcome to hell,' before making his own purgatory as Linguini/Remy create their culinary symphonies.

Technicalities aside, there's so much detail and incongruity to savour in this exquisite work. Like the scene when a bunch of rodents chase a health inspector, or when Linguini is plied with glass after glass of 1961 Chateau Latour in a bid to loosen his tongue, or the improvised rat family music celebration comprising twanging paperclip and pencil. Of course the relationship between Remy and Linguini lies at the heart of the film, without forgetting the charming romance between Linguini and the chic, strong-willed Colette, Remy's rapport with Gusteau's ghost as well as his loyalty to his family. The voice cast is superlative with special mention to Peter O'Toole voicing the tall, skinny, dour, dreaded food critic Anton Ego, who dares the Chef to 'hit him with his best shot.' Ratatouille is Bird's best shot to date and while Remy's final piece de resistance may only be a peasant dish, it, like the film is a royal treat.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I'm not afraid to say that Ratatouille is something of a cinematic masterpiece. Not only does it surpass previous achievements in animation, but it boasts a screenplay that is at once funny, engaging, touching and observant ... as well as risky. With this rat-infested comedy fused onto a human world, Brad Bird (whose credentials are secure thanks to The Incredibles) has shown the kind of originality that is championed in this film by the deceased French super chef, Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett), whose mantra is 'anyone can cook'. (He makes ghostly appearances in Remy's imagination.) His addendum to that, though, is that only those who take risks can become real chefs. Well, Brad Bird is a real chef of cinema. He makes us truly believe the unbelievable.

Filled with a myriad moments of entertainment, Ratatouille is satisfyingly complete as a story, wonderfully funny as a comic adventure and astutely observant as subtle commentary on a range of things that are part of the human condition. Above all, it's made with good taste, a decisive advantage for a film set in a great kitchen.

The voice work by this top cast is superb, bringing to life some of the most ambitiously animated characters, ranging from Remy (world class comic Patton Oswalt) and his extended family of rats to the denizens of Gusteau's bustling kitchen - and outside in the dining room where Peter O'Toole voices the gaunt, funereal figure of Anton Ego, the world's thinnest food critic: he doesn't swallow what he doesn't like, and he hasn't liked anything a chef has cooked for ages.

The film is full of comedic business like that, each scene layered with the core action in the middle, surrounded by ripples of secondary and tertiary elements. The kitchen, along with the odd exterior of Paris, are lovingly created, enhanced by imaginative sound design and Michael Giaccino's well judged orchestral score of many colours. The signature dish of the film (superbly created animation, as is all the delicious food we see) delivers a great pay-off and the subplot about Linguini's ancestry adds to the natural complexity of this brilliant film.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FOOD GLORIOUS (DIGITAL) FOOD

ST(R)EAMING PREVIEW

RATATOUILLE (PG)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Voices of Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter O'Toole, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett

NARRATION: Stéphane Roux

PRODUCER: Brad Lewis

DIRECTOR: Brad Bird

SCRIPT: Brad Bird

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Anderson lighting Sharon Calahan)

EDITOR: Darren Holmes ACE

MUSIC: Michael Giaccino

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Harley Jessup

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 6, 2007







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