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“Nice ingredients, but a little over stuffed”
_ Ratatouille _ Title: Ratatouille

I get excited about Pixar films for a couple of reasons. One, they always have an animated short that runs before the feature that is often just as rewarding as the feature film itself. Two, it is Pixar and so you know it will not be a fluff piece regurgitated for younger viewers only. I was interested to see what they would do with a rat in Paris who wants to be a gourmet chef and has a nose for fine cuisine. That alone is funny. But funny enough for almost 120 minutes of footage? That was the wrinkle. Like a rat after cheese the smart thing would have been a fast, in and out adventure. Not so much with Ratatouille which had a few extra side dishes that could have been left on the shelf.
This was not a beating to set through by any means. The look and style were totally up to Pixar standards. The design of each character gave them a personality that was obvious before they ever spoke a word of dialogue. They are funny, unique creations. Skinner (Ian Holm-voice) is exactly how you would expect an animated head chef of a fine French restaurant to perform. From his height to the eye movement and facial features. Very humorous. I wish they would have spent more time developing and utilizing the other kitchen characters as well. They gave you interesting, quick glimpses but never took it to the next level.
The main negative issue I have with the film is the amount of side drama that they tried to play out. It was too serious in places, even for adults, and this gave it a tendency to drag in spots. We understand that Remy (Patton Oswalt-voice) is trying to break out of the Rat culture and find his inner calling. We don’t need him emoting on this so much. Just show us the rat cooking. That’s all we need. It surely isn’t needed for the younger viewers. They laughed the hardest when characters fell down or were hit in the head with pots and pans. For the older members it was the realism of characters like the over the top food critique Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole-voice) that draw our attention. He gives a review at the end that was a jab to critics everywhere and spot on. It was almost a dare to film critics to not take themselves so seriously and just enjoy the film.
Ratatouille is rated PG and like all Pixar animation a fun time for all. The violence and peril are cartoonish and in no way scary. It is a simple tale of a mouse who loves to cook. Like this review it is a bit longer that was necessary and sometimes takes itself too seriously. Still I give it 3 out of 5 sprinkles of lemon zest. Not sure this will become a classic in the vain of Toy Story or Monsters Inc. but certainly not a bad afternoon at the movies for you and the kids. Just know before you go. With a look at Ratatouille, I’m Matt Mungle The Mungle

(matt@mungleshow.com)(06/25/07) 

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. For additional reviews and interview clips visit the website www.mungleshow.com” 

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