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Patton Oswalt
Ian Holm
Lou Romano
Brian Dennehy
Peter O'Toole
Brad Garrett
Janeane Garofalo
Will Arnett
John Ratzenberger.
Brad Bird
Bob Peterson.
Emily Cook
Cathy Greenberg.
Running Time
111 minutes

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Unbelievably, Pixar just got better...

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Remy (Oswalt), a country rat, has an exceptional sense of taste and wants to be a chef in Paris. When he meets inept human Linguini (Romano), newly installed on the bottom rung of top chef Auguste Gusteau’s restaurant, they hatch a plan to bring Remy’s creativity to the table.

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Describe the plot of Ratatouille to most and they’ll likely turn up their nose as if assaulted by a bad smell. It’s about a rat who yearns to be a chef. That’s not cute, that’s not flip and postmodern. Couldn’t we make it a giraffe who wants to play golf, or a hippo who dreams of being a stunt-hippo, or a gerbil who aspires to play lead guitar in a heavy-metal band (please note, second-tier animation studios - these concepts are copyright Empire)? What’s cool about a rat in a kitchen? Isn’t it, like, kinda gross?

Au contraire, mes amis. After five minutes of Ratatouille you start getting excited about the time when you can buy it on DVD to use as life therapy, like a soothing bath or a dose of Librium. It may be Pixar’s masterpiece, but why quibble over niceties when they keep delivering stories this rich?

Even amongst the Hawaiian-shirted big brains of the Pixar think-tank, Brad Bird is taking on an auteurish hue for the fabulousness of his creations (The Incredibles being the last).

He remains intent on interpreting the foibles and grace notes of the species to which he belongs, even if it is through the medium of a rat. His latest quest is to decipher the soul of an artist who rises from the lowliest place: quite literally the sewer. Remy, not content to eat garbage like his brothers, has the very un-rat-like urge to soothe his palate with extraordinary tastes. He is a gourmand and, having spied the cooking programmes of famed but recently deceased Parisian chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett), is now entranced with the idea of creating transcendent meals that mix flavours like the giddy riffs of jazz. Gusteau is of the opinion
that “anyone can cook”. And a rat is listening.

To Remy, humans are an inspiration (“They taste...” he marvels. “They discover...”). To humans, Remy is vermin. A complicated state of affairs, especially when fate washes the talented rat into Paris, right next door to the late Gusteau’s classy eatery, currently suffering a downturn in fortune. Vulpine food critic Anton Ego (a character designed with Peter O’Toole’s Gothic tonsils fully in mind)
has been less than favourable, but Remy is drawn to the bustling kitchen like a pilgrim to the Holy Land.

Impeding his nascent greatness, apart from being a rat, are Gallicly tempered and vertically restricted head chef Skinner (Sir Ian Holm), and Remy’s sceptical rat-father (Brian Dennehy), who is determined he pursue more rat-like endeavours (like eating garbage). But as Brad Bird has it, art will out. Remy is slave to his own genius.

Scampering fretfully among the whirling ladles, carving knives and angry spurts from the gas burners, his delicate nose sniffs out the insulting scent of compromised soup and he can’t help but risk life and paw to remedy the dish. To leave it would be a sin against his soul.

The answer to his troubles is to go undercover, or under-toque, in cahoots with the supremely untalented new garbage boy Linguini (Lou Romano). This presents Bird and his animators with an awkward challenge - how does their world actually work? Their answer is anthropomorphic sleight-of-hand. Remy doesn’t talk: well, he does, but only in rattish, and it just so happens that we’re fluent. Linguini, his partner, doesn’t. All this bumbling fool can make out are the tinny squeaks of rat-kind. To confer the rat-chef’s talents to his goofy human sidekick, Bird goes one fictional step further, making Remy capable of operating a human being by tugging his hair follicles like puppet strings. The animated are now doing the animating.

It’s an inspired concept, transforming the cooking sequences into astonishingly animated slapstick homages to Mack Sennett, Buster Keaton and, in keeping with the French setting, herky-jerky French farceur Jacques Tati (a kind of proto-Bean), as Linguini is manipulated to concoct paradise in dish form.

Appropriately, this is also a riff on Cyrano De Bergerac, replacing one large-conked poet’s adoration of his cousin Roxanne with a large-conked foodie’s adoration of haute cuisine; both being forced to use an imbecilic intermediary. In one further really-shouldn’t-work device that Bird slips without a care into the spinning narrative,
we have the portly Gusteau as a floating figment of Remy’s overactive imagination to chivvy the little fella along. Remy, like many European artistes, is a whisker away from madness. 

It’s farce and poetry both, able to make thrilling gearshifts from poignant characterisation into madcap as the film spills onto the streets to create chase sequences worthy of Chuck Jones or Fred Quimby. Visually, nothing is beyond these guys. From the fineness of Remy’s fur to the rain-slicked cobbles of the City Of Lights, they somehow grant synthesised surfaces the textures of life. Yet, the animation is at once extraordinary and hardly the point. So deft is the hand of Pixar that you are allowed to take their raptures of detail for granted - the incidental art is slave to the story. Pixar are not really animators at all, but storytellers par excellence whose carving knife happens to be a computer mouse.

By the third act, the standard recipe would be for Linguini to be de-toqued, the diminutive hero exposed and the villainous Skinner to be felled. That, though, is just one of the plot strands Bird has woven. Amid the flurry of impeccably timed disaster, Anton Ego will emerge from his coffin-shaped parlour to test this unforeseen turn-around at Gusteau’s and prove a salutary lesson for any critic as to their own worth. “Surprise me,” he sneers to the waiter, with the kind of disdain normally associated with Lady Bracknell or Daily Mail readers. So fully have you sunk into this animated world, so blurred are its joins with real life, that the resulting dish (designed with the help of hip chef Thomas Keller) lifts the film to rank alongside Babette’s Feast, Big Night or Ang Lee’s Taiwanese trilogy as literally mouth-watering. Although it rather takes the Happy Meal
tie-in off the agenda.

It is impossible not to read Remy as a straight metaphor for Bird or Pixar as a whole. They are unable to let the soup sour when the perfect mix of flavours can be reached. But the message may be more democratic - not everyone can be a great artist, but true art can come from anywhere. Bird is an artist who looks deep into humans (even in rat form) and sees something magic. His films feel like gifts.


Ratatouille Ratatouille
Released: 11 February 2008

We get deleted scenes with introductions from Bird, including a long tracking shot around the restaurant and into the kitchen, like the one from GoodFellas in reverse; another has Skinner chatting to a not-yet-deceased Gusteau.

A Conversation With Brad Bird And Thomas Keller is a misleadingly titled featurette that splices together two separate interviews, highlighting similarities in the working practices of the director and superchef - interesting, but it doesn’t give much insight into Keller’s contribution to the film. That’s supplemented by other short featurettes on Paris and the characters, and some child-friendly fun in Remy’s Incredible But Edible.

Glorious short Lifted, in which a slimy little extra-terrestrial tries to pass its alien abduction exam, may be familiar to you already if you caught Ratatouille at the cinema - if anything, it’s almost better than the main feature it accompanies. Finally, Your Friend The Rat is a ten-minute-long, tongue-in-cheek PR film for ratkind, chucking in stop-motion, 2-D animation and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from a cute little robot named Wall-E. All good stuff then, but there’s not nearly enough on the making of the movie - disappointing, but perhaps not too surprising given Ratatouille’s turbulent production history.

That feeling you have as you leave the cinema - that buzzing in the fingers and lightness in the heart - is called joy.

Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Ratatouille
Empire Star Rating

Simply wonderful

Another slice of Pixar magic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 00:39, 09 February 2013 | Report This Post

A Gorgeous, Brilliantly Funny And Heartwarming Animated Picture

It's true that Ratatouille may not be the five-star phenomenon it's made out to be, as it is most definitely not the best Pixar film. What it is, however, is a breath of fresh air. Giving the film a new setting like Paris and making its' protagonist a lovable sewer rat, Pixar have created a memorable cast of characters, all with their own quirks and sense of humour. The writers get top marks for creativity as well, because the story is one of the best ever in an animated film. The picture also o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 10:11, 06 January 2012 | Report This Post

Ratatouille Review

Pixar succeeds again with Ratatouille, a stunningly animated film with fast pacing, memorable characters, and overall good humor. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:59, 13 December 2011 | Report This Post

Plain and simple, one of Pixar's finest achievements! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 16:29, 17 August 2011 | Report This Post

It's rare that a review answers all the doubts you had about a film but, Ian Nathan's review of this film is sublime. There's no doubt that most of this critical celebration came from Anton Ego's final monologue "the life of a critic is easy, we risk very little yet enjoy a position over those that offer up their work and theirselves to our judgment". The film is certainly Pixar's most deep film, with it's position on art, critisism, morality however is it the most enjoyable throughout... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Blue Ryan at 17:28, 15 May 2010 | Report This Post

amazing, easily one of the best animated films of all time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Don_Al at 20:32, 08 March 2010 | Report This Post

Good, but not one of Pixar's best

A charming cast of characters, wonderful animation (As per usual) and a thought-provoking sub-plot about the narrow-mindedness of some critics. Perhaps not as funny or as emotional as some of their best, but it could be their most meaningful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kieran94 at 11:11, 23 January 2010 | Report This Post

Good, but not one of Pixar's best

A charming cast of characters, wonderful animation (As per usual) and a thought-provoking sub-plot about the narrow-mindedness of some critics. Perhaps not as funny or as emotional as some of their best, but it could be their most meaningful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kieran94 at 11:11, 23 January 2010 | Report This Post

Not brilliant but still enjoyable ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by S1lent B0b at 20:34, 15 September 2009 | Report This Post


Feel-good fun - highly entertaining, charming story, wonderful characters always with Pixar...genuine connection with the audience's emotions. The graphics and animation are quite simply stunning too. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hillsman at 10:54, 19 August 2009 | Report This Post


I dont know what the big deal is,its about a rat that can cook,sure enough at the end,you feel happy and all but how did it win that oscar,surfs up should have won it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 16:48, 23 June 2008 | Report This Post

wat the hell

this is the shitist movie ever ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Trunk Monkeey at 14:21, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post

wat the hell

this is the shitist movie ever ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Trunk Monkeey at 14:21, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


This is a good movie and the animation is very good the food is very lifelike. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hedgehog Nolan at 19:24, 21 May 2008 | Report This Post

It Made Me Hungry!

Just looking at the food they serve and it makes you wanna eat it right there and then. Ratatouille is a sweet and funny movie from Disney, it's got a lot of feeling and a few touching moments. It's very suitable for kids and adults alike, some of the jokes maybe not for the children but in all a tender tale that ended a bit quick and sort of desvered the Oscar win. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 11:29, 08 April 2008 | Report This Post

Ratatouille well crafted

I thought that when i saw this film that it is well crafted and the animation in the film rocks , you cant get better animation than this movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by IRON MAN at 20:49, 07 April 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Ratatouille

You're wrong. I saw it and I loved it. I think that pixar's really out done itself. The animatics were brilliant, the music was brilliant, and the voice casting was brilliant. How can you call a film about a surprisingly American sounding rat in Paris who loves to cook crap?! And by the way, did any one see the guy who plays Remi in Reaper? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CocoIndiana at 22:35, 03 April 2008 | Report This Post


The first time I saw this movie was in FLORIDA and i have to say it was one of the highlights of my holiday! Back in rainy Scotland I bought the DVD and LOVED it even more. It's everything I like in a movie and has the cutest main character ever...(When Linguini is holding the jar you just melt and say awwwwwww) ...MAGNIFIQUE!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Chimene at 16:41, 02 April 2008 | Report This Post

Very enjoyable. The animation of the food is truely superb! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kat113 at 08:30, 15 March 2008 | Report This Post

An exquisite animated film.

Ratatouille is a masterpiece. Thank you, Brad Bird. Great Movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 23:27, 09 March 2008 | Report This Post

Stunning, spot on review. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Quint at 07:18, 07 March 2008 | Report This Post

RE: rata... can't say it

This film did not put on foot wrong. From the animation to the storyline to the characters, everything was perfect. The most amazing animation ever seen, especially in the scene where Remy gets seperated from his family in the Sewer. Peter O' Toole is also fantastic. ... More

Posted by paul_ie86 at 14:48, 23 February 2008 | Report This Post

rata... can't say it

great film, really fun and simply brings joy to all who watch it. I think kids love it and so do adults ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by davieboy at 13:13, 18 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Cheap DVD!

It's a great film and really enjoyed, but I don't think it was worth 5 stars. Empire's review makes out like it's the apex of human achievement. It's just a bloody enjoyable 100 mins spent - end of. Nothing like as good as Toy Story II (which is easily one of the greatest films, or should I say "feature presentations", ever made). ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 22:30, 17 February 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Cheap DVD!

Just blind bought this today at Morrisons for £9 after hearing such amazing things about it! (It's only £8 at Tesco but they had totally sold out!). Yet to watch it, so haven't read any of the comments in depth but am looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about...!? ... More

Posted by losthighway at 19:53, 17 February 2008 | Report This Post

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