Cast your mind back just a few short years and Pixar had been on a hot streak since the 12th of forever, with each hit churning out an average of half a billion dollars worldwide. So it's not surprising if they perhaps grew a little confident. But if ever there was a concept that was perhaps something of an overreach for the animation giant then this might just have been it.

Toys and superheroes and race cars are going to obviously be a no brainier for the kiddies, and have the parents cursing the company’s uncanny knack of whine factor amplification. Fine French dining combined with the least lovable of all the rodent family, rats, however, might just have been pushing it. Could the studio really make anything they touch turn to magic? The answer was, kind of, yes.

In fact the Pixar animation had become so good that they felt comfortable enough to caricature themselves, Corpse Bride style. Ratatouille is as stylish and slick as ever. Of course, in order to get past the ‘ick’ factor Pixar slapped the cute on with a cement trowel. Remy the rat is so adorable, with his giant pink snout and big droopy eyes, as to be positively sickening, but he's tempered with Patton Oswalt's easy-going vocals so as to make him a plucky and likable hero, constantly arguing with his disapproving dad about the merits of humans and expanding the colony’s horizons.

When he gets left behind after the colony flees a shotgun-toting granny, he winds up in Paris, the home of the finest cuisine in the world, along with the snootiest of cuisine makers. With hunger setting in he sneaks into the kitchen of his recently deceased culinary hero, Gusteau, the finest chef in all the land. Once inside he forms the least likely of partnerships with no-talent garbage boy, Linguini, who dreams of greatness but has no actual ability. With Remy pulling the strings (literally, as you'll remember), Linguini quickly becomes the toast of Paris, but head chef Skinner (an excellently manic Ian Holm) is instantly jealous of the success and thinks he smells a rat.

While the concept still might seem a bit whacked out and slightly gross, it is packed to the gills with the trademark Pixar charm and familiar message of perseverance, self-belief and a defiant refusal to let others define your boundaries for you. While the script might be a little light on some of the more sophisticated jokes that have always delighted the adults, there is a bounty of slapstick upon which to gorge oneself.

What is lacking in the gag ratio department is made up for with sheer energy and a predictable, but welcome, gooey climax involving Peter O Toole's scene stealing restaurant critic. It's certainly not Pixar's best effort; not as encapsulating as Finding Nemo, nor as funny as The Incredibles, but there is enough whimsy and warm fuzziness here to occupy anyone for a couple of hours. Just don't watch it when you're hungry.

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