Ratatouille used to mean a French peasant dish made with various vegetables. When I was growing up, Mom would make it by grilling eggplant, green peppers, onions, and slicing tomatoes, then layering the whole thing with ham and Swiss cheese, herbs, salt and pepper, then baking it. Served with a crispy baguette and butter, it was a delightful Summer dish. Now it refers
Now, no one has to remember the dish, though it adds a layer to the title of this movie (and is featured at the end of the movie), which centers on a beguiling little rat named Remy with a distinct culinary gift. The Pixar animation is truly wonderful, not only of the characters, but of the beauty of Paris and the French countryside. Disney and Pixar collaborated on this film. Animators spent time in culinary schools, to understand the workings of the kitchen, and they went to Paris to appreciate the beauty and spirit of that city.
Remy comes to Paris from the countryside and goes to visit the restaurant of his culinary god, Gusteau, only to find that the reknown chef has died. Not to worry, though, Remy gets to commune with his spirit.
When Alfredo Linguini, the janitor spills the soup special, he attempts to cover it up by throwing ingredients into the pot. Remy can't stand by and watch, and fixes the soup. Linguini discovers Remy, and they form a partnership. Remy hides under Linguini's toque and pulls on his hair to direct his movements. It's adorable.
The plot is complicated by sous-chef Skinner's desire to profit from Gusteau's name, the hitherto unknown fact that Gusteau had an heir, a romance between Linguini and chef Colette, and malevolent critic named Anton Ego. Not to mention the ethnic tension between humans and rats, and the rat genocide taking place all the while. A restaurant is not a safe place for a young rat, as is amply demonstrated every time Remy's cute little nose shows itself.
Definitely a charming, fun movie. Pixar does it again!