Ratatouille has the Pixar technical magic without, somehow, the full Pixar flavor. It's Brad Bird's genial dessert, not so much incredible as merely sweetly edible.
Ratatouille doesn't center on the over-familiar surfaces of contemporary life. It harks back to Disney's older era, when cartoons seemed part of a more elegant world with less edgy characters.
The characters are irresistible, the animation is astonishing and the film, a fantasy version of a foodie rhapsody, sustains a level of joyous invention that hasn't been seen in family entertainment since The Incredibles.
Writer and director Brad Bird keeps Ratatouille moving without resorting to the cute animal jokes or pop-culture wisecracking that ruined so many other recent animated films.
Brad Bird wrote and directed Ratatouille and tops his previous work. Since his work includes The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, this puts him somewhere between Chuck Jones and Michelangelo.
Ratatouille will make you wonder why animation needs to hide behind the mantle of 'it's for children, but grownups will like it, too.' This one's for Mom and Dad, and yep, the kids will like it, too.
The film may be animated, and largely taken up with rats, but its pulse is gratifyingly human. And you have never seen a computer-animated feature with this sort of visual panache and detail.
It's not just the computer animation that is vibrantly three-dimensional. It's also the well-rounded characters... I defy you to name another animated film so overflowing with superfluous beauty.