Film: 'Ratatouille'; Directed by Brad Bird; Voices of Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano; Rating: ***
Delightful... or shall we say, mouth-watering, scrumptious and delectable? Evenly cooked and delectably packaged.... 'Ratatouille' reminds us how far animation films have come from their single-dimension images of a cardboard utopia.
Today the animation films from America talk, sing and even recite poetry to us.
The sheer eloquence of Brad Bird's screenwriting skills in this film could be matched only by the gourmet rat who heads the cast of cooks, waiters and other cooking crusaders who populate the kitchen of a posh but under-the-weather restaurant in Paris.
It is here that some of the most delectable dishes are created - and I don't mean just the ones being served up for the whispering customers in Gustaud's restaurant.
We the audience also get our plateful of yummy goodies. Whether it's the sumptuous spin that's given to the tale of a rat's improbable friendship with a garbage boy in the hotel who can't cook... not without the rat's culinary help. Or the way the Parisian dynasty is demystified to demonstrate decadence through a food culture.
Ratatouille is such a delicious tale of passions and palates in Paris, you wonder why the director chose the language of animation!
Then, after a while it ceases to matter where the spectacular images come from.
They're so real, vibrant and colossal in their giggly grandiosity, you find yourself gawking and admiring the amazing achievement of a film that puts a food-fixated rat and a mixed-up loser of a human being at the helm... and then sits back to watch them create feisty fireworks of food, egos, rivalry, jealousy and finally love.
The voices of course are the backbone of the tale. The huge Hollywood actors (including the veteran Peter O'Toole who speaks up for the snobbish food critic Anton Ego) add a vivacious veneer to the culinary delight that this amazingly light souffle of a satire serves up.
As the food flows incessantly from the kitchen for the whispering clients we the audience too get our fill. Creativity, a la carte.
And why did the surly ill-tempered chief chef Skinner remind me of Amitabh Bachchan in 'Cheeni Kum'.... the same disdain for 'lesser' human beings (read mortals who don't consider cooking to be the crest of creativity) and a sneering aloofness from colleagues and clients alike?
This likeness serves as yet another reminder of how global the cinematic experience has now become. It matters little whether the menu being served up comes from the spicy land of Bachchan or from a Parisian paradise... what matters is the power of connectivity which Ratatouille exercises with much gusto, energy and humour.
In one word, delicious.
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