And we are headed back into animation territory! Film #14 in the 30 Day Challenge is Ratatouille, one of my most favorite films from Pixar.
Set in Paris, Ratatouille tells the story of Remy, a rat who possesses a keen sense of taste and smell and aspires to be a chef. His family disapproves of his dream, arguing that a rat can’t exactly succeed in an industry that is rat-phobic. However, Remy holds onto his dream of becoming a world-class chef, and a string of fateful events leads him to Paris, where he inadvertently finds his way into the restaurant of the famous chef, Gusteau. There he meets the restaurant’s garbage boy Linguini, who lacks all sense when it comes to cooking. Linguini recognizes Remy’s cooking talent, and the two of them strike a deal where Remy agrees to secretly help Linguini with his cooking endeavors. What results is an unlikely friendship and a succession of incredible, topsy-turvy events that turn Remy and Linguini’s lives upside down.
This perhaps my tenth or so time watching Ratatouille. I still remember watching it in theaters with my parents when it first came out, and we laughed non-stop from beginning to end. Watching it today, I still found myself laughing at all the same moments and having the same fuzzy feelings at the film’s heartwarming conclusion.
Watching Ratatouille so many times has also given me many opportunities to think about why I love this film and why it has remained one of Pixar’s classics. The first reason is the story itself. It’s very original – I mean, who has ever heard a story about a rat that cooks? But in addition to the general plot being novel and intriguing, the details are also executed beautifully, and that is what makes Ratatouille so enjoyable to watch. For example, the animation is outstanding, and you can tell a lot of effort was put into making the movie a visual pleasure. Paris is rendered beautiful and dreamy through the gorgeous animation, which is fitting for the movie, since Remy, the protagonist, views Paris and its culinary world as the city of his dreams.
The plot details were well-executed, too, such as the humorous dialogue, exciting chase sequences, and the touching friendship that develops between Remy and Linguini. But what I personally liked about the film was its inspirational nature, the idea that if we persist, our dreams can be achieved and that our backgrounds, regardless of what they may be, cannot inhibit us from reaching our goals. Like what the chef Gusteau says in the beginning of the film during his cooking show, “You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook.” Or, as the food critic in the film Anton Ego says at the film’s end, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” We are all gifted with a certain sets of talents and passions that complement each other, just like how Remy had a love for cooking and also possessed great culinary skills. But during the pursuit of our passions, we may encounter difficulties, some of which are due to our backgrounds, just like how Remy is a rat who wants to be a chef, but rats aren’t welcome in the kitchen. But if we persevere and continue to be courageous and strong, we can overcome these issues and achieve our dreams, just like how Remy ultimately defies the odds and becomes a great chef. I suppose that’s why Ratatouille is such a great film. Not only is it entertaining and visually beautiful, but it has an uplifting message that we can all relate to and understand, for we all have dreams and passions, and we have all at some point encountered obstacles that leave us questioning whether those dreams are possible and whether we have the right qualifications or backgrounds. But this film reminds us that as long as we keep the courage and faith, “a great artist can come from anywhere.”
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Director: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
Writer: Brad Bird
Cast: Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano
Run time: 1 hr 51 min