Retrospective Film Review: Ratatouille

December is well under way, and if you’re anything like us at Spindle HQ, you will have had your fair share of mulled beverages already. Never fear, as we continue to bring you the perfect hangover cure in our Retrospective Film Reviews. This week it’s Brad Bird’s Ratatouille.

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