Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Film Strip Friday! Ratatouille

It’s Film Strip Friday!
Release Date June 29th, 2007


Despite his sensational sniffer and sophisticated palate, Remy's dreams of becoming a world class chef seem hopeless due to one small detail - he's a rat! Through a twist of fate, he ends up in the world-famous restaurant of his late hero, Auguste Gusteau. With a dash of culinary courage and the help of garbage boy Linguini, Remy whips up exquisite meals that impress even the nasty chef Skinner and food critic Anton Ego. Together they conquer the kitchen and prove that big dreams can come true no matter how small you are.


Ratatouille (French pronunciation: [ʁatatuj], English: /rætəˈtuːiː/) is a 2007 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the eighth film produced by Pixar, and was directed by Brad Bird, who took over from Jan Pinkava in 2005. The title refers to a French dish (ratatouille) which is served in the film, and is also a play on words about the species of the main character. The film stars the voices of Patton Oswalt as Remy, an anthropomorphic rat who is interested in cooking; Lou Romano as Linguini, a young garbage boy who befriends Remy; Ian Holm as Skinner, the head chef of Auguste Gusteau's restaurant; Janeane Garofalo as Colette, a rôtisseur at Gusteau's restaurant; Peter O'Toole as Anton Ego, a restaurant critic; Brian Dennehy as Django, Remy's father and leader of his clan; Peter Sohn as Emile, Remy's brother; Brad Garrett as Auguste Gusteau, a recently deceased chef; and Will Arnett as Horst, the sous-chef at Gusteau's restaurant.
The plot follows Remy, who dreams of becoming a chef and tries to achieve his goal by forming an alliance with a Parisian restaurant's garbage boy. Ratatouille was released on June 29, 2007 in the United States, to both positive reviews and box office success, and later won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, among other honors.


Remy is an anthropomorphic rat gifted with highly developed senses of taste and smell. Inspired by his idol, the recently-deceased chef Auguste Gusteau, Remy dreams of becoming a cook himself. When his clan is forced to abandon its home, Remy is separated from them and ends up in the sewers of Paris. He hallucinates the spirit of Gusteau and takes his advice to look around outside, eventually finding himself at a skylight overlooking the kitchen of Gusteau's restaurant.
As Remy watches, Alfredo Linguini is hired as a garbage boy by Skinner, the restaurant's current owner and Gusteau's former sous-chef. When Linguini spills a pot of soup and attempts to recreate it with disastrous results, Remy falls into the kitchen and cooks the soup to perfection rather than escaping. Linguini catches Remy and misdirects the chef's attention from him, whilst taking arguments from Skinner. While they are arguing, the soup is accidentally served and found to be a success. Colette Tatou, the staff's only female chef, convinces Skinner to retain Linguini, who is misattributed with the soup's creation. Linguini discovers Remy's comprehension and intelligence and he takes Remy home.
Remy and Linguini find a means to overcome the inability to communicate, as Remy can control Linguini like a marionette by pulling on his hair. Hidden under a toque blanche, Remy helps Linguini demonstrate his cooking skills to Skinner. At that, Skinner assigns Colette to train their new cook into the profession and the restaurant's practices.
Suspicious of Linguini's newfound talents, Skinner learns that the boy is Gusteau's son and proper heir to the restaurant. Remy discovers the evidence and, after eluding Skinner, brings it to Linguini, who removes Skinner as owner. The restaurant continues to thrive, and Linguini and Colette develop a budding romance, leaving Remy feeling left out.
France's top restaurant critic Anton Ego, whose previous review cost Gusteau's one of its star ratings (and ultimately the chef's life) announces he will be re-reviewing the restaurant the following evening. After an argument between Remy and Linguini, Remy leads his clan in a raid on the restaurant's pantries. Linguini catches them and throws them out. Skinner, now aware of Remy's gourmet skills, captures Remy in an attempt of using him to create a new line of frozen foods for him. Remy is freed by Django and Emile, and he returns to the restaurant only to find Linguini was unable to cook without him. Linguini, spotting the rat, apologizes to him, and explains the truth to the rest of the staff. The staff then walks out, believing Linguini is insane. Colette later returns after recalling Gusteau's motto, "Anyone can cook," from a bookstore window.
Django arrives with the rest of the pack, offering to help after seeing his son's determination. Remy directs the rats to cook for the patrons while Linguini runs the front of the house. For Anton, Remy and Colette create a variation of ratatouille which brings back to Anton memories of his mother's cooking. After dining, Anton requests to see the chef; Linguini and Colette wait until the rest of the diners have left to introduce Remy and the rats to Anton. Anton writes a self-castigating and glowing review for the newspaper the next day, stating that Gusteau's chef is "nothing less than the finest chef in France."
Despite the positive review, Gusteau's is closed down due to reports of a rodent infestation, and Anton loses credibility as a critic. However, Anton eagerly helps fund a popular new bistro, "La Ratatouille", created by Remy, Linguini and Colette.

Voice cast

Main characters

  • Patton Oswalt as Remy, a rat who strives to serve a grander purpose in life. Director Brad Bird chose Oswalt to voice after hearing his food-related comedy routine. Remy was named after director Brad Bird's dog, an American Hairless Terrier.
  • Lou Romano as Alfredo Linguini, the son of Auguste Gusteau. He is hired as the restaurant's kitchen cleaner, but befriends Remy in the process.
  • Janeane Garofalo as Colette Tatou, Gusteau's rôtisseur. She is assigned to tutor Linguini in cooking, later becoming his girlfriend.
  • Ian Holm as Skinner, a diminutive chef and owner of Auguste Gusteau's restaurant. He plans to use Gusteau's name to market a line of microwaveable meals. Skinner's behaviour, diminutive size, and body language are loosely based on Louis de Funès.
  • Peter O'Toole as Anton Ego, a restaurant critic. He openly dislikes Auguste Gusteau's methods and opinions. Ego's appearance was modeled after Louis Jouvet.
  • Brad Garrett as Auguste Gusteau (whose first name and last name are anagrams of each other). The once greatest chef in France until his death by heartbreak caused by Anton Ego's negative review of his restaurant. Many reviewers believe that Gusteau is inspired by real-life chef Bernard Loiseau, who committed suicide after media speculation that his flagship restaurant, La Côte d'Or, was going to be downgraded from three Michelin stars to two. La Côte d'Or was one of the restaurants visited by Brad Bird and others in France.
  • Brian Dennehy as Django, the father of Remy and Emile. His name is never mentioned in the film. Dennehy, during the 1980s, had previously worked with Disney on films Never Cry Wolf and The Man from Snowy River II.
  • Peter Sohn as Emile, Remy's older brother, who does not share his brother's passion for cooking and eats whatever he can find out of the garbage. He is also a thief.

Other characters

  • Will Arnett as Horst, Skinner's German sous chef.
  • Julius Callahan as Lalo, Gusteau's saucier and poissonnier. Callahan also voices François, Skinner's advertising executive.
  • James Remar as Larousse, Gusteau's garde manger.
  • John Ratzenberger as Mustafa, Gusteau's head waiter.
  • Teddy Newton as Talon Labarthe, Skinner's lawyer. Labarthe bears resemblance to French actor Jean Reno.
  • Tony Fucile as Pompidou, Gusteau's patissier. Fucile also voices the health inspector.
  • Jake Steinfeld as Git, a former lab rat and member of Django's colony.
  • Brad Bird as Ambrister Minion, Anton Ego's butler.
  • Stéphane Roux as the narrator of the cooking channel.
  • Thomas Keller as the male dining patron who asks what's new.
  • Jen Herrmann as female dining patron.


Jan Pinkava came up with the concept and directed the film from 2001, creating the original design, sets and characters and core storyline. Lacking confidence in Pinkava's story development, Pixar management replaced him with Bird in 2005. Bird was attracted to the film because of the outlandishness of the concept and the conflict that drove it: that rats feared kitchens, yet a rat wanted to work in one.  Bird was also delighted that the film could be made a highly physical comedy, with the character of Linguini providing endless fun for the animators. Bird rewrote the story, with a change in emphasis. He killed off Gusteau, gave larger roles to Skinner and Colette, and also changed the appearance of the rats to be less anthropomorphic.
Because Ratatouille is intended to be a romantic, lush vision of Paris, giving it an identity distinct from previous Pixar films, director Brad Bird, producer Brad Lewis and some of the crew spent a week in the city to properly understand its environment, taking a motorcycle tour and eating at five top restaurants. There are also many water-based sequences in the film, one of which is set in the sewers and is more complex than the blue whale scene in Finding Nemo. One scene has Linguini wet after jumping into the Seine to fetch Remy. A Pixar employee (Shade/Paint Dept Coordinator Kesten Migdal) jumped into Pixar's swimming pool wearing a chef's uniform and apron to see which parts of the suit stuck to his body and which became translucent from water absorption.
The film's take on the traditional ratatouille dish was designed by gourmet chef Thomas Keller, and later came to be known as confit byaldi.
A challenge for the filmmakers was creating computer-generated food animations that would appear delicious. Gourmet chefs in both the U.S. and France were consulted and animators attended cooking classes at San Francisco-area culinary schools to understand the workings of a commercial kitchen. Sets/Layout Dept Manager Michael Warch, a culinary-academy trained professional chef prior to working at Pixar, helped teach and consult animators as they worked. He also prepared dishes used by the Art, Shade/Paint, Effects and Sets Modeling Departments. Renowned chef Thomas Keller allowed producer Brad Lewis to intern in his French Laundry kitchen. For the film's climax, Keller designed a fancy, layered version of the title dish for the rat characters to cook, which he called "confit byaldi" in honor of the original Turkish name. The same sub-surface light scattering technique that was used on skin in The Incredibles was used on fruits and vegetables, while new programs gave an organic texture and movement to the food. Completing the illusion were music, dialogue, and abstract imagery representing the characters' mental sensations while appreciating food. The visual flavor metaphors were created by animator Michel Gagné inspired by the work of Oscar Fischinger and Norman McLaren. To create a realistic compost pile, the Art Department photographed fifteen different kinds of produce, such as apples, berries, bananas, mushrooms, oranges, broccoli, and lettuce, in the process of rotting.
According to Pixar designer Jason Deamer, "Most of the characters were designed while Jan [Pinkava] was still directing... He has a real eye for sculpture." For example, according to Pinkava, the critic Anton Ego was designed to resemble a vulture. Rat expert Debbie Ducommun (a.k.a. the "Rat Lady") was consulted on rat habits and characteristics. A vivarium containing pet rats sat in a hallway for more than a year so animators could study the movement of the animals' fur, noses, ears, paws, and tails as they ran. The cast members strove to make their French accents authentic yet understandable. John Ratzenberger notes that he often segued into an Italian accent.
To save time, human characters were designed and animated without toes. Despite this, the movie had such high design values that the human characters were even given burn marks on their forearms, as if they had received them from the kitchen stoves.


Brad Bird reteamed with Michael Giacchino on the score for Ratatouille since they got along well during the scoring of The Incredibles. Giacchino had written two themes for Remy, one about his thief self and the other about his hopes and dreams. He also wrote a buddy theme for both Remy and Linguini that plays when they're together. In addition to the score, Giacchino wrote the main theme song, "Le Festin", about Remy and his wishes to be a chef. Camille was hired to perform "Le Festin" after Giacchino listened to her music and realized she was perfect for the song; as a result, the song is sung in French in all versions of the film.
The music for Ratatouille gave Giacchino his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score as well as his first Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album. Giacchino returned to Pixar to score their 2009 blockbuster Up.
"Le Festin" (performed by Camille)
"Welcome to Gusteau's"
"This Is Me"
"Granny Get Your Gun"
"100 Rat Dash"
"Wall Rat"
"Cast of Cooks"
"A Real Gourmet Kitchen"
"Souped Up"
"Is It Soup Yet?"
"A New Deal"
"Remy Drives a Linguini"
"Colette Shows Him le Ropes"
"Special Order"
"Kiss & Vinegar"
"Losing Control"
"Heist to See You"
"The Paper Chase"
"Remy's Revenge"
"Abandoning Ship"
"Dinner Rush"
"Anyone Can Cook"
"End Creditouilles"
"Ratatouille Main Theme"


Ratatouille's world premiere was on June 22, 2007 at Los Angeles' Kodak Theater. The commercial release was one week later, with the Academy Award nominated short film Lifted preceding Ratatouille in theaters. A special pre-release of the film was shown at the Harkins Cine Capri Theater in Scottsdale, Arizona on June 16, 2007 at which a Pixar representative was present to collect viewer feedback.


The trailer for Ratatouille debuted with the release of its immediate predecessor, Cars. It depicts an original scene where Remy is caught on the cheese trolley in the restaurant's dining area sampling the cheese and barely escaping the establishment, intercut with separate scenes of the rat explaining directly to the audience why he is taking such risks. Similar to most of Pixar's teaser trailers, the scene was not present in the final film release.
A second trailer was released on March 23, 2007. The Ratatouille Big Cheese Tour began on May 11, 2007, with cooking demonstrations and a film preview. Voice actor Lou Romano attended the San Francisco leg of the tour for autograph signings.

The front label of the planned Ratatouille wine to have been promoted by Disney, Pixar, and Costco, and subsequently pulled for its use of a cartoon character.
Disney and Pixar were working to bring a French-produced Ratatouille-branded wine to Costco stores in August 2007, but abandoned plans because of complaints from the California Wine Institute, citing standards in labeling that restrict the use of cartoon characters to avoid attracting under-age drinkers.
In the United Kingdom, in place of releasing a theatrical trailer, a theatrical commercial featuring Remy and Emile was released in cinemas prior to its release to discourage obtaining pirated films. Also in the United Kingdom, the main characters were used for a theatrical commercial for the Nissan Note, with Remy and Emile watching an original commercial for it made for the "Surprisingly Spacious" ad campaign and also parodying it respectively.
Disney/Pixar were concerned that audiences, particularly children, would not be familiar with the word "ratatouille" and its pronunciation. The title was therefore also spelt phonetically within trailers and on posters. For similar reasons, in the American release of the film, on-screen text in French was printed in English, such as the title of Gusteau's cookbook and the sign telling kitchen staff to wash their hands, though in the British English release, these are rendered in French. In Canada, the film was released theatrically with text in English, but on DVD, the majority of the text (including Gusteau's will) was in French.

Home media

Ratatouille was released on high-definition Blu-ray Disc and DVD in North America on November 6, 2007. One of the special features on the disc is a new animated short film featuring Remy and Emile entitled Your Friend the Rat, in which the two rats attempt to entreat the (human) viewer to welcome rats as their friends, demonstrating the benefits and misconceptions of rats towards humanity through several historical examples. The eleven minute short uses 3D animation, 2D animation, live action and even stop motion animation, a first for Pixar.
The disc also includes a CG short entitled Lifted. This is the short that aired before the film during its theatrical run. It depicts an adolescent extraterrestrial attempting to abduct a sleeping human. Throughout the sequence, he is graded by an adult extraterrestrial in a manner reminiscent of a driver's licensing exam road test. The entire short contains no dialogue (which is typical of Pixar Shorts not based on existing properties). Also included among the special features deleted scenes, a featurette featuring Brad Bird discussing filmmaking and Chef Thomas Keller discussing culinary creativity entitled "Fine Food and Film", and four Easter eggs. Although the Region 1 Blu-ray edition has a French audio track, the Region 1 DVD does not, except for some copies marked as for sale only in Canada.
It was released in DVD on November 6, 2007, and earned 4,919,574 units (equivalent to $73,744,414) on its first week (Nov. 6–11, 2007) during which it topped the DVD charts. In total it sold 12,531,266 units ($189,212,532) becoming the second best-selling animated DVD of 2007, both in terms of units sold and sales revenue, behind Happy Feet.


Box office

In its opening weekend in North America, Ratatouille opened in 3,940 theaters and debuted at No.1 with $47 million, the lowest Pixar opening since A Bug's Life. However, in France, where the film is set, the film broke the record for the biggest debut for an animated film. In the UK, the film debuted at No.1 with sales over £4million. The film has grossed $206,445,654 in the United States and Canada and a total of $623,722,818 worldwide, making it the fifth highest grossing Disney·Pixar film now, just behind Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, Up and The Incredibles.

Critical reception

Ratatouille received mostly positive reviews from critics. On film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Ratatouille has a 96% rating from a sample of 205 reviews, while it has a Metacritic score of 96 based on 37 reviews indicating "universal acclaim", which in June 2009 was the seventh-highest of all scores on the website.
Ratatouille was nominated for five Oscars including Best Animated Feature Film, which it won. At the time, the film held the record for the greatest number of Oscar nominations for a computer animated feature film, breaking the previous record held by Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and The Incredibles at four nominations, but tied with Aladdin for any animated film. In 2008, WALL-E surpassed that record with 6 nominations. Now, Ratatouille is tied with Up and Toy Story 3 for animated film with the second greatest number of Oscar nominations. Beauty and the Beast still holds the record for most Oscar nominations (also 6) for a traditional hand-drawn animated film.
A. O. Scott of The New York Times called Ratatouille "a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film"; echoing the character Anton Ego in the film, he ended his review with a simple "thank you" to the creators of the film. Richard Roeper deemed it "a very interesting film, it's working on a very different level." Both Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times (giving the movie a perfect four stars) and Jeffrey Lyons from NBC's Reel Talk said in their reviews that they loved the film so much, they are hoping for a sequel. Reaction to the film in France was also extremely positive. Thomas Sotinel, film critic at the daily newspaper Le Monde, hailed Ratatouille as "one of the greatest gastronomic films in the history of cinema". Several reviews noted that Anton Ego's critique at the end of the movie could be taken, and at least in one case was taken (by Roger Moore, who gave the film 3/5 stars.) as "a slap on the wrist" for professional critics.


The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Animated Film, which it lost to Atonement, The Bourne Ultimatum (for both Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing) and Juno, respectively, winning only the last one. Furthermore Ratatouille was nominated for 13 Annie Awards including twice in the Best Animated Effects, where it lost to Surf's Up, and three times in the Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production for Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm, and Patton Oswalt, where Ian Holm won the nomination. It won the Best Animated Feature Award from multiple associations including the Chicago Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the Annie Awards, the Broadcast Film Critics, the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA), and the Golden Globes.

Video game

A video game called Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure was released on March 20, 2012 for Xbox 360, and it featured characters from Ratatouille, Up, The Incredibles, Cars, and Toy Story.

Similar films

If magazine described Ratatoing, a 2007 Brazilian computer graphics cartoon by company Video Brinquedo, as a "ripoff" of Ratatouille. Marco Aurélio Canônico of Folha de S. Paulo described Ratatoing as a derivative of Ratatouille. Canônico discussed whether lawsuits from Pixar would appear. The Brazilian Ministry of Culture posted Marco Aurélio Canônico's article on its website. In the end, Pixar reportedly did not seek legal action.

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