Ratatouille, Blu-ray (2007)

by | Nov 9, 2007 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Ratatouille, Blu-ray (2007)

Director: Brad Bird
Voices of Ian Holm, Peter O’Toole, Patton Oswalt and others
Studio: Pixar/Disney 54656
Video: 2.39:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9, color 1080p HD
Audio: English 5.1 uncompressed PCM (48k/24-bit); English/French / Spanish DD 5.1, DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: New animated short “Your Friend the Rat;” Deleted scenes; “Fine Food & Film” – Combined interviews with Brad Bird and Chef Thomas Keller on similarity of their efforts; “Lifted” – animated short; Gusteau’s Gourmet Game; Cine-Explore – Behind-the-scenes experience
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: *****

Pixar just can’t seem to do anything wrong in their animation.  I found I enjoyed this Blu-ray twice as much as I did seeing the movie at the theater.  It’s another winner family comedy film but with all sorts of depth and details that will please adults no end. I noticed countless small visual, plot and dialog details this time that I had missed at the theater.  For just one example, the brief vertical view of the office-parlor of the deathly-feared food critic (voiced by Peter O’Toole) is in the configuration of a coffin.

To become carried away by the hilarious and involving story of Remy – the French rat with exquisite taste – you have to not allow yourself to be disturbed by the sight of swarms of rats taking over the kitchen of a French restaurant.  They are, after all, pretty cute rats – especially little Remy.  He barely escapes the wrath of a home owner in the provinces whose kitchen he has been getting familiar with – especially a cookbook by the great chef Gusteau with the subtitle “Anyone Can Cook.”  Remy takes this to heart when he is transported via the sewer to the underground below the late Gusteau’s famous restaurant in Paris.

His hunger propels him into its kitchen where he aids a hapless new garbage boy by enhancing the soup he has ruined.  The two form an unlikely partnership in which Remy hides under the boy’s chef hat and – pulling on his hair in various ways – controls which spices he should add, what food preparation he should do, and everything that is required to create masterful dishes.  The restaurant’s management has been taken over by Gusteau’s former sous chef, a nasty little man who has sold out the Gusteau name for lines of profitable fast foods. It turns out the garbage boy is the illegitimate son and heir of the great Gusteau. Remy helps reveal that fact, but when the boy reveals that his culinary genius all comes from a rat his entire kitchen staff leaves, plus the health inspector sees the rat in the kitchen. It’s left to Remy and his family to save the day.

The animation is amazingly good. The Paris-at-night scenes are lyrical and not corny, the action is quick and exactly right for the biggest laughs.  Everything moves at a nervous pace just like the urgency of a topflight restaurant’s kitchen.  Animation nearly always comes off best even on standard DVDs, especially when taken from the original hi-res digital files of  the computer animation as Ratatouille was.  But the extra Blu-ray resolution – especially on characters zipping around the screen – is noticeable and welcome. I don’t know where the 2.39:1 ratio comes from (instead of 2.40:1); it seems to be particular to computer animated features. The spectacular sound effects tracks in surround make the screen action seem even more realistic, especially with the uncompressed PCM option.  The music track is no great shakes but it does support the story well at several points. The story is an imaginative variation on the familiar family film plot of “follow your star / do what you love,” and ends up instructing one painlessly on some basics of the restaurant kitchen and cooking, as well as sly digs at food critics, rat family responsibilities, and male-female relationships, among other things.

 – John Sunier
 

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