In the new animated feature by The Incredibles director Brad Bird, a rat of rarefied palate (and exceptional olfactory ability) dreams of becoming a fine French chef, then gets his chance when he teams up with a garbage boy to restore a once-legendary Paris eatery to its former glory. While the tall, gangly Linguini appears to cook, it's the squat, four-legged Remy (well-voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt) who's pulling the strings—literally, in the form of the curls atop Linguini's head—much to the consternation of the kitchen staff's resident dictator, Skinner, who wants to use the restaurant as a springboard for a line of frozen dinners. That farcical premise, however, is merely the appetizer before Bird's main course—a consideration of the principles of artistic creation, and of greatness at odds with mediocrity, that will come as little surprise to those familiar with either The Incredibles or Bird's debut feature, The Iron Giant. If that sounds like heady stuff for a kids' movie, it is, but Ratatouille is as much a feast for the senses as it is food for thought, from the dazzling photorealism of the animation to the delectable plates of soup and sweetbreads and, of course, the titular Provençal stew. "Anyone can cook," goes a refrain heard often throughout the film. But only Brad Bird could have made Ratatouille.
Remy the rat, voiced by Patton Oswalt.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., June 29. Rated G. 110 minutes.