Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

Warning! Your Man in Arlington is about to slip into his movie critic mode. I usually try to spare my readers from one of my entertainment obsessions (movies) since my very early youth. But occasionally something so great comes along that I must share it.

The movie is Ratatouille. In a nutshell (so to speak), it is brilliant. You must take the whole family and all of your friends and neighbors to see it – now!

It is the story of Remy, a young French rat, who has developed a remarkably sensitive palate – against all odds. He is a rat after all.

He is considered by his family and friends as a bit of a weird duck – rat, I mean. While they are indiscriminately wolfing down the garbage, Remy sniffs out untold wonders and analyzes them like a true chef – which he ultimately becomes.

Remy is considered something of a nerd by his friends and family until he sniffs out some rat poison in a piece of garbage picked up by his brother. Then he becomes the official sniffer of garbage for the clan, a job that he does not relish (sorry), but which establishes him as a respected member of the community.

Then, disaster strikes. The entire clan of rats is discovered in the attic of an old lady who hefts a mean shotgun. They make a desperate run for the sewer system and are swept into the heart of Paris.

Remy is sitting in the sewer, separated from his family and friends, when he is visited by the ghost of the world famous Chef Auguste Gusteau, author of Remy’s favorite cook book, Anyone Can Cook.  Gusteau urges him to leave the sewer and experience the world beyond his circumscribed life.

When he emerges from the sewer onto the roof of the building above, the glory of Paris lies below him, and directly across the street is Restaurant Gusteau! In the course of events, Remy befriends young Linguini, a garbage boy at Gusteau’s who dreams of being a great cook. It soon becomes very evident that Linguini can’t cook at all. Remy then takes over and learns how to control Linguini’s movements, and voila – a great chef is made!

There is much more to the story, but you need to find it out for yourself.

The movie’s characters are priceless. In addition to Remy (the voice of Patton Oswald) and Linguini (Lou Romano) there are Collette (Janeane Garafalo), an under-chef who falls in love with Linguini; the evil Chef Skinner (Ian Holme), who took over after the death of Gusteau and is cheapening the franchise by creating a series of fast-food packaged meals; the dour and egotistical Ego (Peter O’Toole), the world’s greatest restaurant critic; Remy’s brother, the ever agreeable Emile (Peter Sohn); and Remy’s father, Django, who saves the day by leading his rat clan into the restaurant to cook the great meal after all the chefs walk out on Linguini.

Another star is the Pixar animation process, which literally glitters. It is magnificent.

I have always felt that it is very unfortunate that an animated picture has never won a best picture Oscar. There should be a separate category. If ever a picture of any sort should win an Oscar, this is the one.

You can see it at Arlington’s AMC Courthouse and Regal Potomac Yard theaters.

 It’s a must see picture!

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