The genius of Pixar is that they have always dealt with the kinds of solemn and poetic themes usually beyond the reach of their target audience – be it free will and loyalty in Toy Story, fear and parenthood in Monsters Inc., or parenthood (again) and the perils of adolescence in Finding Nemo. Ratatouille from 2007, a simple tale of a rat who falls in love with the intricate orchestrations of gastronomy, remains Pixar’s most ambitious, loving, and insanely detailed feature to date.
The deceptively humdrum premise – that anyone can cook – actually comes brimming with stowaway themes that concern ambition, prejudice, faith, the nature of legacy, and (most wonderfully intangible to a child) the quixotic love of food. It’s hard to imagine a more highbrow and cerebral film for kids. Ratatouille is perceptive without condescension and passionate without mawkishness. It never sacrifices character or narrative progression for the sake of pace and enjoys a truly witty levity in the face of such serious subject matter. Subsequent Pixar films such as Wall-E or Up have achieved further acclaim but it’s Ratatouille that retains the company’s stratospherically high benchmark for inventive and soulful moviemaking.
Words: Ash Verjee