A Sumptuous Visual Treat
Starring: The voices of Patton Oswalt,
Iam Holm, Lou Romano, Brian
Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter
O’Toole, Brad Garrett,
Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett,
and John Ratzenberger
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 110 minutes
Distributor: Pixar/Walt Disney
Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures
Distribution/The Walt Disney
Director: Brad Bird
Executive Producer: John Lasseter and Andrew
Producer: Brad Lewis
Writer: Brad Bird
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO
The Walt Disney Company
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and Buena Vista Distribution)
Dick Cook, Chairman
The Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
The movie opens with Remy the rat narrating his story. He is not the cuddly Mickey Mouse of yesterday’s Walt Disney Company. Instead, he’s a rat that most people would want to avoid. But, Remy has high aspirations. He has a finely tuned taste and smell palette, has taught himself how to read and wants to become a great chief like his hero, Auguste Gusteau.
When the mistress of the farmhouse where Remy’s colony resides tries to blow them off the face of the earth with her shotgun, they all get carried away on the river, into the sewers to Paris of all places. When Remy wakes up after his harrowing escape, he is talking to Auguste who died recently. Remy recognizes that Auguste is a figment of his imagination, but his internal dialogue leads him straight to Gusteau’s famous restaurant.
Since Gusteau died, the restaurant has fallen on hard times. It is now run by the mean-tempered new chef, Skinner.
In an unlikely scenario, Remy teams up with the new garbage boy Linguini, who may be Gusteau’s heir, to take the culinary world of Paris, and Skinner, by surprise. The villains are set against Remy and Linguini, including Skinner, who tries to pry Linguini’s secrets out of him by getting him drunk, and the fiercesome food critic Anton Ego, who looks down on Gusteau’s motto that “Anybody can cook.”
As one might expect in Paris, this gourmet meal includes a touch of love, a lot of humor, some fantastic action, and some of the most delightful food scenes in the history of cinema. RATATOUILLE is a near great movie. It does have some issues, however. Linguini is plied with enough wine to get him drunk, the rats are not only difficult to embrace, but they also steal when told not to do so, and some of the cartoon violence skews toward older children and teenagers. However, there are many mentions of moral principles to counteract this, and the overall storyline is very pro capitalist, pro individual and supportive of the gifts that the individual has no matter what his background or genetic makeup. The movie also has a reference to godliness in that old non-biblical saw about cleanliness, and there is a reference to Heaven.
The real Christian theology comes in the fact that the movie makes it clear that anyone can be a chef, although not everyone can be a great chef. Thus, like the divine meritocracy instituted by the Declaration of Independence, the movie strongly suggests that all people are created equal by God, who grants everyone the right to pursue personal happiness while they pursue their individual service to God’s divine authority. Whether the humanist pundits who believe in biological and economic determinism pick up on the radical nature of this premise is anyone’s guess, but it is nice to see a movie taking the side of free enterprise and freedom to be who you want to be.
RATATOUILLE is a wonderful, savory concoction from the incredible Pixar team. A near great movie, it does have some issues. Some of the cartoon violence skews toward older children and teenagers, and some moral points are ignored by the dramatic action. That said, the movie has a brilliant light Christian worldview with strong moral elements and very strong sentiments favoring the pursuit of happiness.