Jul 9, 2007



Rating: 4.5/5 for adults, 4/5 for kids.

If your kids are really into food preparation and criticism, or they really like rodents, then by all means take them to see Ratatouille. If not, get a babysitter and go by yourself; it's very good.

"I'll wait for the DVD," said my oldest daughter, but the youngest wanted to see it, so we all went. That's democracy via daddy override for ya. Granted, it's easier for a kid to digest a movie on a TV screen than in the unfamiliar environs of a multiplex, but my girls are no slouches in the kiddie movie taste department. Wallace and Gromit are favorites, as well as a selection of Miyazaki movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and virtually every Pixar film.

Still and all, they were squirming in the seats by the halfway mark of Ratatoille. In my opinion, rightly so. It's a movie for adults masquerading as a kids film. Unlike Brad Bird's previous Pixar film, The Incredibles, it doesn't quite work flawlessly on two levels. Yes, it's funny, but for the most part, it operates in a much lower key than previous Pixar efforts.

I'll try to avoid spoiling anything here, but there are key plot points, obvious even in the trailer, that kids just aren't going to get. Health codes, restaurant staff hierarchies, 11 herbs and spices: it's nothing if not thorough. Sure, there are some chase scenes, and some physical humor, but kids are just going to stare for long patches that go over their heads.

The animation is, of course, spectacular. The voices, as in most Pixar films, are very well done. The celebrity voices (Janeane Garofalo, Brian Dennehy, John Raztenberger, Brad Garrett, Ian Holm, and Peter O'Toole) are contributory, rather than irritating (unlike a few celebs in Cars). O'Toole and Holm are fantastic. Ratzenberger and Garrett, both Pixar veterans, really push themselves beyond their "trademark" voices, to the point that I didn't even recognize Ratzenberger, and wouldn't have known Garrett if I hadn't been told ahead of time. Garofalo, likewise, is unrecognizeable and surprisingly good.

It's a good movie. See it. But for the kids, you might want to take my six-year-old daughter's prophetic advice and wait for the DVD.

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