Ratatouille

Inciting Event: Remy the rat’s attempts to gain ingredients from the old lady’s kitchen end with her shooting up her ceiling—and exposing Remy’s entire colony. The rats all flee, and Remy is separated from them in the sewer. This is both the Inciting Event and the Key Event—the moment when the protagonist is forced out of his Normal World. This timing of the Key Event always creates the necessity/opportunity for a comparatively long journey before the protagonist reaches the “adventure world” of the Second Act.

First Plot Point: After the hapless new garbage boy in Gusteau’s restaurant accidentally ruin the soup, Remy falls into the kitchen. He intends to escape, but can’t help himself: he has to stop and fix the soup. The restaurant is the “adventure world,” thus his entry into it is the First Plot Point. The main conflict is that Remy’s becoming a cook at the restaurant, and the garbage boy Linguini is the catalyst for that conflict. Remy makes a deal with Linguini—whom everyone believes is responsible for the wonderful new soup: Remy will tell him how to recreate it, in exchange for Linguini’s protection.

First Pinch Point: The next day, Remy and Linguini fail to recreate soup thanks to a complete lack of successful communication skills on either of their parts. They go back to Linguini’s apartment that night and practice, discovering that Remy can control Linguini’s movements by pulling his hair. This is the obvious turning point halfway through the First Half of the Second Act. It also suitably emphasizes what’s at stake for the characters (getting fired and thrown out of the kitchen) and the power held over them by the antagonist—the head chef Skinner.

We also have an antagonistic “POV” scene, in which Skinner reads a letter from Linguini’s mother that claims Linguini is Gusteau’s son. Skinner freaks out, since he fears Linguini may contest the will that gives Gusteau’s restaurant to Skinner.

Midpoint: Skinner challenges Linguini to make a special order for customers who want something “new.” Remy successfully—and to everyone’s surprise—creates something new and marvelous, and soon everyone is ordering it. Remy can now move out of his reaction phase in the first half and instead begin taking action within the kitchen.

He also reunites with his brother Émile.

Second Pinch Point: Remy’s dad rejects Remy’s new affiliation with humans and takes him to see a shop where dead rats are hanging in traps. Remy insists Linguini is different, but the next morning Linguini falls in love with another chef, Colette, and starts spending more time with her and listening to her advice over Remy’s. The relationship between Remy and Linguini begins to be stressed—and Remy starts letting his brother and his friends into the restaurant after hours to steal food.

In another antagonist POV scene, Skinner learns from his lawyer that Linguini is indeed Gusteau’s son. Skinner plans to keep Linguini on for just a few more days, until the will leaving the restaurant to Skinner can no longer be contested—then he will fire Linguini.

Third Plot Point: After the false victory in which Remy uncovers Linguini’s parentage and Gusteau’s will, Remy’s feelings are hurt when Linguini takes all the credit for the restaurant’s success. The brutal food critic Anton Ego announces he will be dining at the restaurant, and Linguini rejects Remy’s help. In retaliation, Remy lets all the rats into the freezer. When Linguini comes back to apologize—and discovers them—he kicks Remy out. This is a low point for everyone involved: Remy has lost his chance of being a chef, Linguini has lost his only chance of impressing Anton, and both of them have lost each other.

Climax: After Remy returns to help Linguini, Linguini finally reveals to the rest of the kitchen staff the truth that Remy is responsible for the restaurant’s renewed success. Everyone quits. Remy’s family rallies to help him and Linguini serve the guests—and Anton. Colette returns and helps Remy create a special dish of ratatouille for Anton, who loves it and demands to meet the cook.

Climactic Moment: Anton gives the restaurant a stellar review.

Resolution: But the health inspector shuts Gusteau’s down due to a rat infestation. With Anton backing them, Remy, Linguini, and Colette open a new restaurant. This is a lovely example of how a little “bittersweet” can keep a happy ending from being too pat. Everyone gets what they want, but there are still consequences for their actions.

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