Who's in It:
Voices of Patton Oswalt, Peter O' Toole, Janeane Garofalo, Brad Garrett, Will Arnett
The Basics: A fastidiously clean French rat who loves to cook turns a newbie chef into his own personal marionette (sitting under the kid's tall white hat, he magically controls the secretly awful cook's hands by yanking on locks of hair
look, it's a cartoon; you just accept that this can happen) and turns around the fortunes of a formerly fancy restaurant while simultaneously thwarting the greedy goals of a hack chef whose evil agenda is to make a lot of money off a line of frozen foods.
What's the Deal? I'm really hoping this makes a ton of money and sparks a trend of mainstream animated features that rely more on plot and character than on by-the-numbers cartoonisms, because it's that different from what you've seen before in a movie that's ostensibly aimed at kids. Not that it's not fast-paced and kid-friendly. But it's also so fantastically strong that there are entire sequences where going for the easy laugh or the quick plot turn is something you could tell was just not on the minds of the filmmakers. You notice stuff like that when you've had to sit through crap like Happily N'Ever After.
I Know One of the Guys Who Worked on the Pots and Pans: And they look real. In fact, just about every object in the kitchen scenes is almost mind-trickingly, photographically true. And yet still cartoony, if that makes sense. Like to the point where I was imagining it also being made as a live-action feature by Jeunet and Caro (City of Lost Children, Amélie).
Who Might Get Restless: Very little kids. At the screening I went to, there were, as usual, hordes of screaming children. The under-fours seemed a little noncomprehending. But then again, that could have been a result of the 110-minute running time.
Who Should Be Offended? Probably Wolfgang Puck, although his frozen pizza is not so horrible. That canned soup of his, though, is pretty gross.