After the listless, maudlin Cars derailed Pixar's track record for damn-near perfect cinematic storytelling, it's wonderful to see that they're back at the top of their game with Ratatouille, a wholly original entry in the computer animated movie field that seems destined to be the studio's least financially successful film primarily because it's their most sophisticated and mature. Not many marketing tie-ins here. That it's doing well at all owes everything to the quality of the film itself.
With its multi-layered plot about a common rat secretly cooking up magic in a snooty Paris restaurant - a rat in a restaurant? you can see all the suspense and the stakes with that setup right there - and its affinity for the intricate details of gastronomy, I can't imagine many children getting this one - how can they, when few adults can even pronounce the title? But I do think that all the little kids who dig Ratatouille today are going to grow into really cool adults.
Major kudos to Pixar and to Brad Bird (an extraordinarily gifted director who thankfully took over after the film's original helmer, Jan Pinkava, was fired) for daring to make something urbane and witty in this day and age. The characters are perfectly shaded, the multiple plotlines merge seamlessly, and the photorealistic backdrops of Paris and the French countryside are picture-perfect.
I can't think of anything not to like about Ratatouille. This is a marvelous, touching film about creativity, loneliness, and the bravery it takes to be a nonconformist. It's a "cartoon" made with adults firmly in mind.