Hollywood Hues
A ratís-eye view
Ervell E. Menezes

Talk about the impossible dream, hear this. Take an ambitious, wanting-to-emulate-humans rat Remy whoís bent upon becoming a gourmet chef in Paris and get him to motivate a restaurants shy outcast garbage boy Linguini who is about to be fired from his job. Together they work wonders, aided by animation experts, to come up with a delightful entertainer Ratatouille which is sure to warm the cockles of many an unanimated heart.

True, thereís a good deal of Buster Keaton-Mark Sennett-like slapstick which has gone out of vogue today, but there are enough of gags, good one-liners and heart-warming anecdotes to keep the story going almost right through its 110-minute length. The strong narrative and the twists and turns in the plot too play an important part.

When his dad tells him "it isnít stealing if no one wants it," Remy repartees "if no one wants it why do you take it?" He also tells his greedy brother Emile they could fill some books with what dad doesnít know. Thatís probably the generation gap with the old man discouraging Remy from getting too close to humans.

But Remy wants to leave his garbage-eating roots behind after being inspired by famous Parisian chef Auguste Gusteauís mantra "anyone can cook."

It is Gusteauís restaurant that is the focal point of our story with the chef in a sort of limbo between heaven and earth and appearing to Remy from time to time. His biggest hurdle, however, is the current chef Skinner so Remy has to work through the garbage boy Linguini with the modus operandi almost Bergmenesque.

There are other interesting cameos like the lone female chef Collette, the restaurant critic Anton Ego, a rodent senior statesman Django among others. So there are enough of characters (try and spot Charles de Gaulle and Bridget Bardot facials) to weave the story around and the visuals fetchingly shot by Sharan Calahan gives one enough of ratís-eye view of the action.

But it is Remyís persona that is distinctive ó a small guy with big feelings. And like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull he wants to explore whatís beyond the horizon. Thatís what makes him compete with his mentor or original Jerry. So between this, that and the other, director Brad Bird has his audience enthralled, abetted no doubt by excellent animation work and situations and it is all wrapped up in a not-so-predictable climax.

True the recent rush of animation films (guess it is easier than working with the stars) range from the sublime to the ridiculous but Ratatouille (pronounced "rat.a.too.ee") is clearly in the top bracket. Donít miss it.