I saw Ratatouille this weekend and thought it was good, not great. The animation (similar to Shrek III) was, in the words of Dr. Evil....breathtaking. There were scenes in Ratatouille that showed Paris that I honestly couldn't tell whether it was actual footage of the city (which it may have been, I still don't know) or animation.
I liked the core message of the story. I took away that you should never judge the package in which genius may come because genius may come from anywhere. I just didn't find the story itself all that compelling.
It's sort of like the core message of Finding Nemo was about the uncertainty that a father faces when trying to raise a child and was great. The story wrapped around that was unbelievable.
An interesting note for me was that the voices in the movie were all virtual unknowns. It sort of reminds me of the early days of Disney when they did the same thing. Pixar, understandably, seems to be easing on the gas of the star power of its voices. After Cars which included Owen Wilson and Paul Newman, this film included a list of people I've never heard of, I suppose it makes more money for the studio!
It's also interesting to compare that to Shrek III which seems to be relying more and more on those big names while the story is getting less interesting.
The thing about the animation for me that was so stunning was that this movie was loaded with physical comedy and the animation made it very believable. The rat controlled Linguini, the young "chef" as a puppeteer and frankly it looked like he was stealing scenes from Pinocchio with his body flopping around. In addition, the scenes where the rat was running through sewers and the streets of Paris were spectacular.
I liked that the movie tried to spice in some stuff for adults (in particular, the food critic whose last name was Ego was brilliant) while still keeping the kids engaged. My bet is if you like cooking to some degree the movie was probably awesome!
Perhaps my expectations were too high (in fact I'm pretty sure they were). I love that Pixar has kept Brad Bird (who wrote and directed it) around. His movie Iron Giant was tremendous. He also was part of the early Simpsons years. Hopefully the next one (which apparently is about a robot who becomes all that he wants to be) will be cool.
Then again, a good outing by Pixar (sorry I just can't quite bring myself to call them Disney) is better than most any outing by almost all the other studios so keep them coming!