It's not as funny as The Incredibles or Toy Story or Monsters Inc., but the story is strong. A story we all know from the previews. A rat named Remy rises above the apple cores and the moldy bread crusts to help a man named Linguini become a master chef at the most popular restaurant in Paris. Remy never actually communicates with Linguini, but the two share a connection and Remy turns out to have an incredible palate despite being a rat. He helps Linguini rise to fame under false pretenses and eventually Linguini has to come clean about his rat. The movie felt much more grown up than past Pixar movies and I wasn't disappointed with that. Brad Bird directs this believing that just because it's animated doesn't mean it needs to be childish.
So as I'm sitting in the theater watching Remy the rat run through the sewers and across the kitchen counters of Paris it hits me. Like a freight train from the back of the theater it hits me. I was liking a movie about a rat. A rat that could cook. A rat that was eventually allowed into the finest kitchen in all of Paris. And all I could think was: bravo Disney. Brilliant! A 'G' rated movie about rats. Soon all the children of the world will be wanting rats in the kitchens, going through our bread drawers, weaving in and out of our condiments, shuffling our slices of cheese and dealing them to their rat friends. And then after a bit, rats will be making our meals, and babysitting our children. Then before you know it, your teenage daughter is knocked up and running away with her rat boyfriend to have rat babies in Vegas. Not to mention, all the questionable restaurants in the world will now have a very good excuse why there are rat droppings in your souffle.
As I write this now, the rat lobbyists are clanking their glasses of expensive red wine in the finest crystal, celebrating their victory for they have earned every bit of their high salaries. They have made me like rats. And this didn't happen over night. They have been working the "love thy rat" angle for a long time now starting with Mickey Mouse, through Templeton of Charlotte's Web, Bob Geldof of 'The Boomtown Rats', the singing rats of Babe and ending with Ratatouille. But I'm afraid they may have shown their hand a bit too much this time.
While I may have gotten lost in the swirly kaleidoscope of rat fantasy, it was only for a few moments. Then that invisible hand that periodically comes out to slap some sense into me, did so repeatedly. And suddenly I remembered the Peter Weller movie Of Unknown Origin where a very nasty rat brings down a man and his beautiful Brownstone over a weekend. And then I remembered the movie Graveyard Shift where a small group of people armed with only a fire hose are sent to clean out the basement of a cotton gin. There they do battle with hundreds and hundreds of rats and end up face to face with God knows what. There are also the rats of Willard and the giant rats of Princess Bride, lest we forget.
So despite what Ratatouille does to you, remember this: Rats are not our friends. They are not soft to the touch and they would not make a good plush toy for you to place right next to your pillow at night. They are in fact filthy, disease carrying vermin, with red beady eyes that will not help you cook the best dish you've ever tasted. Instead, they will bite you in the neck and crap in your soup.
You have been warned.