Cooking up Hope with Chef Ratatouille

ratatouilleA rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great French chef despite his family’s wishes and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession. When fate places Remy in the sewers of Paris, he finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau. As Remy enters, so does Linguini, a clumsy youth hired as a garbage boy. Despite the apparent dangers of being an unlikely – and certainly unwanted – visitor in the kitchen of a fine French restaurant, Remy’s passion for cooking soon sets into motion a hilarious and exciting rat race that turns the culinary world of Paris upside down.

I had the honor of doing an audio review for a room full of parents and young children at nearly 9pm, with children showing signs of fatigue with bedtimes and potential meltdowns imminent. What transpired is one of the quickest audio reviews I’ve done, so hopefully brevity is the source of wit.

Remy the rat was told he was BORN a certain way… into a certain time, place, and culture, and he must accept this as his reality and truth. At on point Remy says “No. Dad, I don’t believe it. You’re telling me that the future is – can only be – more of this?” His father says “This is the way things are; you can’t change nature.”

Can our nature be changed? If we are rats on this ship called life… trapped in a sociopolitical situation like Hindus in the untouchable caste, or genetically predisposed a certain direction – are we locked into that? Is our identity FIXED? Is our destiny dictated by our birth and/or environment?

The message of Ratatouille is NO – it CAN be changed… and there IS hope.

This is also reflected in the movies human protagonist, Linguini – a “nobody”, a son without a father, a garbage boy. Linguini believes he has no legacy, no heritage, just silly dreams. Truth is, he has a legacy – he has a father who is known to MANY, he is the child of an amazing CREATOR of cuisine, and he has an inheritance…

Do we resonate with this in vain hope for the fairy tale? Or does this strike a chord deep in our souls toward something true? The picture of Gusteau’s kitchen at the end of the film is a portrait of the church – an odd collection of VERY different peoples freed from the constraints of their identity, from their culture, brought together and unified in one kingdom, one kitchen, laboring together with joy to produce something sweet and savory for those around them that points not to us, but our participation as image-bearers of our Father and Savior, our inspiration and guiding light.

In the message of Ratatouille there IS truth, and hope, at least for the Christian. It is not just distraction or delusion for our kids… there is a warm spot of real connection with the same gospel Jesus preached.

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