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Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

TAKE one inspired concept (namely, a rat who aspires to be a chef), add a liberal sprinkling of Pixar magic and then get Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles, to stir up the mouth-watering ingredients.

The result? A (film) dish called Ratatouille that provides filmgoers of every age with one of the tastiest treats of the year! Pixar simply don’t make bad movies. Cars may have been pedestrian in places, but it still had a lot to admire. And Ratatouille takes things to a different level yet again.

It’s fun, boisterous, beautiful to watch and supremely well written. The characters are brilliant, the set pieces inspired and the film never outstays its welcome. What’s more, it rises above a potentially tricky concept in apparently effortless fashion.

Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) is a country rat with a heightened sense of taste and smell who dreams of becoming a chef in Paris.

When fortune places him in the city, he reluctantly teams up with inept garbage boy Linguini (Lou Romano) and sets about transforming Gusteau’s restaurant into the talk of the town.

But the partnership has to remain a secret and Remy has his work cut out ensuring that the restaurant’s jealous head chef Skinner (Ian Holm) doesn’t find out, while impressing sullen food critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) in the process.

Ratatouille begins with a fantastic countryside sequence and just keeps getting better, zipping along at a fair old pace while putting forward characters – both human and rodent – that are genuinely worth caring about.

Remy, especially, stands out as a masterful creation – a rat that’s capable of delivering as many laugh out loud moments as he is sympathetic “aahs”, who provides the film with its emotional core.

But Bird ensures that every character gets a moment to shine, whether it’s the devious goings-on of Holm’s height-challenged Skinner, or the sanctimonious observations of food snob Ego. And he caps things with a truly memorable monologue from Ego that tests the critic in all of us, while serving notice of the film’s true artistic intent – to entertain while creating a classic.

But then Bird is a tireless perfectionist whose close attention to detail and heartfelt passion for movies yields rich rewards for viewers. And Ratatouille deserves to stand alongside the classic work of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery, and the highest standards of Pixar’s enviable back catalogue, as another piece of artistic genius.

It’s a five-star feast of a film that deserves to be savoured over and over again.

Certificate: U
Running time: 1hr 51mins
UK DVD Release Date: February 11, 2008