Animation studio Pixar is the closest thing Hollywood has to a sure thing. Films like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles have given the studio a reputation for making hits (that people actually enjoy) that’s second to none. That’s a tough legacy to live up to, but Ratatouille doesn’t flinch. Writer/director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) takes what should be a fairly icky subject - Remy the rat (Patton Oswalt) loves cooking so much he becomes the head chef at a swanky French restaurant by teaming up with clumsy garbage boy Linguini (Lou Romano) - and turns it into a triumph.
Weaving non-stop physical comedy with romance, friendship, family dramas, health concerns, the kind of hero’s journey most blockbusters would kill for and a hefty swipe at cynical critics, this occasionally threatens to collapse in on itself like a badly cooked soufflé. But Bird, demonstrating a directing ability that mirrors the Remy/Linguini team’s virtuoso skill in the kitchen, constantly adds and mixes characters and subplots until everything comes to a head in a riotous conclusion that can't fail to satisfy. It might have been created virtually, but Ratatouille is the best physical comedy of the year.