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Ratatouille - Blu-ray DVD / animation DVD / family and children's DVD review
RATATOUILLE Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy, Peter O'Toole, Janeane Garofalo
Director: Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava   Studio: Walt Disney/Pixar
DVD release: 06 November 2007   Runtime: 111 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Anamorphic, Animated, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Blu-ray
DVD features:Audio tracks (PCM 5.1 Surround - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English, French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, Spanish, French), 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, Gusteau's Gourmet Games, Cine-explore, Deleted scenes, All-new animated short (Remy & Emilo in "Your Friend the Rat"), "Lifted" short film, Additional deleted scenes, Fine Food and Film

Released the same day as the delightful first volume of Pixar Short Films, Brad Bird and Co.'s Ratatouille proves afresh the ability of Pixar to produce the ultimate in feature-length animated eye candy. The perfect subtlety of a rat's shrug in the trailer was already blowing people away pre-release; despite (yet in perfect concert with) cartoonish, caricature-style character faces in the film, every motion may as well have been captured in the real world - on high-def.

The film's premise is as simple as it is unlikely: a Norway rat with gourmet tastes (Remy, voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt) in the French countryside ends up in the City of Lights, ultimately joining forces with a bumbling but lovable young man (Linguini, voiced by Lou Romano) who handles garbage duties in a fine but fading restaurant. Together they overcome the ill intent of a greedy, pint-sized, Gordon Ramsay-esque head chef determined to get rich parlaying his former boss's name into microwaveable corn-puppy cash; together they thaw the heart of a ruthlessly cold food critic (voiced in brilliantly dry fashion by Peter O'Toole). Oh, and Linguini falls in love with a tough-as-nails meat and poultry chef (Colette, the only female in the kitchen at Gusteau's and voiced by Janeane Garofalo). The message: anyone can accomplish anything with the help and support of friends.

Stunning panoramic shots of Paris at night, crazy rat-vantage scenes of a working restaurant kitchen, and inspired physicality (Remy cooks by proxy through Linguini, perched under his toque and controlling his movements with precision hair-pulling) make Ratatouille a visual feast. The story is warm, the laughs abundant, and the food fantastic. Just don't let your imagination drift off to thoughts of a real kitchen swarming with real rats riding chunks of cheese down graters on their real furry rat bellies. That could be a deal-killer (and cookie-tosser).

The end credits are rendered in a roughly stylized with the appearance of multiple flat layers made apparent by motion, and in manner a surprising complement to the feature's rounded 3-D style. The all-new animated short "Your Friend the Rat" includes long sections of more traditionally cartoonish 2-D renderings. The short's subject, essentially an abridged history of rats and their relationship to humans, is fascinating in and of itself, but the goofy illustrations of various points make it a tasty sorbet following the movie meal (watch the spots of Black Death pop out all over a rat, then a person - shouldn't be funny, but it is).

The hilarious dialogue-free short "Lifted", featuring a little green frog-like creature undergoing alien abduction training, is included as well, and the last step's a doozy. A half-hour feature, "Fine Food and Film," brings together director Brad Bird and acclaimed chef Thomas Keller for some behind-the-scenes kitchen action, and a couple of short Easter eggs (found with a bit of quick-timed arrowing and selecting on the main menu) serve as after-dinner mints. Ratatouille is the equivalent of sugar, flour and salt: you've got to have it on your shelf - and in your player. Bon Appétit!
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reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
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