Best for all ages
Running time: 110 minutes
In the 1970s, when Ratatouille director Brad Bird was an 11-year-old kid in Oregon he began sketching an animated short based on "The Tortoise and the Hare." By 14 he'd submitted his twist on the classic fable to the Disney Studios and was invited to study there with some of the famed "Nine Old Men" of Disney animation. Fast-forward a few decades and you can see the Disney influence in Bird's storytelling and animation, first in 2004's The Incredibles, and now in Ratatouille.
This latest Disney/Pixar film follows Remy, a slim French rat voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt, who yearns to be a chef. Remy's idol, Chef Gusteau, is the pride of Parisian foodies and author of the book, "Anyone Can Cook." But the odds of Remy realizing his dream are pretty slim, him being a rat and all. And then Linguini enters the picture. A goofy, but sweet redheaded young fellow, Linguini finds himself in need of some cooking know-how and Remy is happy to oblige.
The movie runs almost two hours, pretty long for an animated flick, but the funny and sweet story keeps your attention, and the computer animation seems to have hit a new high. Audiences can almost smell the soup simmering on the stove in Gusteau's restaurant as Remy teeters on the pot's rim tossing in a pinch of this and a handful of that. The bustling streets of Paris are also vividly brought to life as is the coffin-shaped office of the unforgiving food critic, Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole). This is a film that both parents and children will be entertained by, visually and otherwise. That is something Walt Disney always strove for when making films. No doubt he, and his Nine Old Men, would be proud of their young protégé.
Parents take note:
There's not much to worry about in this film. Glasses of wine are fairly common, and in one scene, Linguini overindulges with help from a scheming chef. However, most of the drinking is with dinner or as a celebratory toast. And, of course Remy gets separated from his family at one point, but kids - even the little ones - probably pretty much expect that arc in their movies these days.