The Daily Stream: Ratatouille Is A Reminder To Slow Down And Appreciate Life

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Ratatouille"

Where You Can Stream It: Disney+

The Pitch: Back in 2007, we got a movie about a rat that cooks. I actually remember watching the first commercial and thinking, "Um, ew." Not that I don't love rats. I had one as a pet, but I wouldn't exactly let her run over my counter in the kitchen. Of course, this is Pixar we're talking about, and "Ratatouille" is hands down my favorite Pixar flick of all time. 

In the story, a rat named Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt, so you know it's going to be delightful) has a wonderful palate. He doesn't want to eat garbage like his brother Émile (Peter Sohn) or his pop Django (Brian Dennehy). He's a fan of the famous (and now late) chef Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett), who speaks to him as a spirit. When the rat colony gets kicked out of the old lady's attic they were living in (and that is one of the best scenes in the film), Remy gets separated and ends up in Gusteau's restaurant. He sees the garbage boy Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano) who has messed up the soup in the kitchen, and tries to fix his mistakes. Remy is a wonderful chef and makes it so good that the new owner Skinner (Ian Holm) is forced into making Linguini into a chef. When Linguini realizes he and Remy can communicate, he enlists Remy's help to keep making the soup. 

Remy ends up inside Linguini's chef's hat, pulling on his hair to make him do things, bringing him to the attention of Colette (Janeane Garofalo), the only woman in the kitchen. I won't spoil more than that, but I will tell you that you need this film in your life right now. 

Why it's essential viewing

Auguste Gusteau's motto was, "Anyone can cook." He never met me, but other than that anyone can cook. In this film, even little Remy can appreciate the good things in life, and cares so much that his dish helps a grumpy old man remember his idyllic childhood foods, and become a nicer person for it. This is a sweetness to this film that makes me tear up just thinking about it. The way Remy describes loving food is the antithesis of the merlot monologue from "Sideways." It's so full of love and mindfulness that I can watch it over and over again. 

I know you're laughing about me using "mindfulness" here, but it's exactly what I mean. We move so fast in life, we're so burdened with stress, particularly the last few years, that we do what Émile does with food; we "hork it down," as Remy would say. We don't notice the small things, the things that matter. I promise you it will help calm you down if you stop for a moment and look at that sandwich you're eating. Look at how the bread looks like a soft pillow, how the cheese shines or crumbles, how the lettuce still has droplets of water on it that reflect the light. Notice how it feels while you're chewing, taste each different note. Close your eyes and let yourself enjoy it as a sensation, rather than merely fuel to get you through your day. 

I will shut up about that now, but I'm telling you, I got that from Remy in this film. There is a joy in simple things, in a piece of cheese or a strawberry, or a combination you've never had before. Remy taught me that. 

Don't just hork it down!

Not only does this film make you laugh, tug at your heartstrings, and teach you to slow down and appreciate food, but it also teaches you about the inner workings of a kitchen. It shows the hours the chefs put in, the imbalance in the genders on the line, and the egos that can sometimes go along with it. This film also got me addicted to cooking shows, even though I have literally burned frozen food (and maybe also a tiny part of my cabinets). It's a fascinating world.

That aside though, it's also a story about appreciating talent and never underestimating anyone. The garbage boy today could be your boss tomorrow, and that's kind of wonderful. It reminds you to be kind to everyone you can. Though I won't spoil the ending, it tells you that a happy ending may be very different than what you expect it to be, and that you should appreciate it anyway, in whatever form it comes in. Maybe I'm leaning too much on the message of the film, but it feels really important to do that right now. I will tell you that it's also really, really funny. 

I hope you watch and take the time to appreciate the chips you're eating right now, or the gourmet meal your friend attempted. I hope you look at the little things (or little creatures) that have the power to make you happy. I hope you get something really great for dinner tonight and eat it slowly. 

Bon appétit.