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You’re thinking: Since when did an animated rat-flick review fit into a gay rag? If I wanted to bullshit you, I’d quip, “Somewhere, there’s a rodent that’s spending too much time lurking under the shower drain in the men’s locker room.” Your face would likely contort, you might decide to get rid of your breakfast on me, and you’d walk away. Then, I’d beg you to stay, offering a more logical explanation: If we can embrace bears, then why not rats?
Granted, Remy (voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt) doesn’t spend time wooing over men’s rumps, or trying to sneak a peek at some schlongs, but that’s because the bristly, bluish protagonist of Pixar’s “Ratatouille” is too busy whipping up delicious dishes – no, seriously – at a Parisian restaurant.
But Remy, penis connoisseur or not, and the queers share a common bond that goes beyond their Euro fervor – whether that’s for the food, or the men, the link’s there (sort of). Really, though, it’s the rise-above theme, featuring a human-hated critter looking for his place – as a chef, no less – in a world that would rather squash him than engage in a convo (someone, buy President Bush a ticket).
Now, I admit, that’s like chit-chatting with a pooch, or a cat, or a bird – all of which I’ve seen done, and have been guilty of – but there’s something about witnessing a rat that makes people cringe, stammer, flee – or find a suitable weapon (options: shoe, trap, knife, bazooka, bomb)to send it into eternal rat rest. Usually, the latter.
Point blank: Remy isn’t accepted by the snooty society surrounding him (sound familiar?), but that doesn’t stop him in his efforts to become the next – actually, only – rat version of Emeril. And with his cutesy contortions and the delish concoctions that’ll put ma’s cooking to shame, he’s just so damn hard to resist.
But everyone in “Ratatouille” doesn’t share that sentiment. Most notably the irritable old fogey that Remy and his comrades swipe grub from. Even the wee one’s family doesn’t accept his decision to upgrade from garbage-picking cook to fancy-food-making chef (again, sound familiar?).
Remy’s Madonna is Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett), an A-list chef who meets his demise shortly after his restaurant receives a crappy review from the wicked restaurant critic Anton Ego (superbly voiced by the legendary Peter O’Toole). Now a ghost, Gusteau becomes an increasingly important rah-raher for Remy – pushing him to strive for his big break after a doofus wannabe chef, Linguini, screws up some soup. So, Remy swoops in, saves the soup and we’re not supposed to roll our eyes? Of course not! Take note, foodies, from Gusteau’s book, appropriately titled, “Anyone Can Cook” ( … “Except this Reporter”).
“Ratatouille” is teeming with wholesome morals, like family values and the aforementioned beaten-but-not-buried motif. But its recipe for zesty adult-oriented wit – like a stab at Americans’ obsessions with trans fatty, fried foods – is as succulent as some of the hearty dishes Pixar flaunts. Repeating its successful streak (“The Incredibles,” “Cars”) of super-duper entertaining and visually-stimulating (i.e., sparkling Paris skylines, the photorealism of Gusteau’s kitchen) animated eye feasts, the top-notch studio’s more mature go at radiant animated flavor is a sure bet come Academy Award time.
Sure, Gusteau’s “anyone’s-a-cook” motto may fit food-making, but only a select few animated-film recipes can take the cake. “Ratatouille” owns the bakery.