Remy is a rat who lives in the attic of a French country home with the rest of his pack, including pack leader and his father Django and his brother Emile. Remy is gifted with keen senses of taste and smell and he is encouraged to explore cuisine by the late chef Gusteau's belief that "anyone can cook," but his talents are instead used to sniff for rat poison in the garbage. After the pack is accidentally discovered and flees into the sewers, Remy is separated from the rest and ends up beneath Gusteau's restaurant. Remy's imaginations of Gusteau encourages him to watch the kitchen at work from a skylight. Inside, Skinner, Gusteau's former soups-chef and current owner, reluctantly hires Linguini, the son of Gusteau's old flame, onto the kitchen staff as a janitor. Linguini, unseen by all but Remy, accidentally spills the soup and tries to recreate it by adding random ingredients. Remy, horrified, slips and falls into the kitchen and attempts to escape through a window, but cannot resist stopping to correct the soup. As he is finishing up, Remy is caught by Linguini, who himself is caught by Skinner, but before anyone can react, the soup is served to the customers and found to be a success. Believing Linguini to have perfected the soup, Skinner tasks him to recreate it the next night, and to kill the rat on his way home. Linguini is unable to kill Remy, recognizing that Remy is the "little chef" that made the soup, and takes him home with him to help the next day.

Remy discovers that he can control Linguini's movements by pulling on his hair.

Through a series of mishaps, Remy and Linguini are able to come up with a method to overcome the communication barrier between the two; by pulling on Linguini's hair, Remy can control Linguini's movements in the fashion of a marionette. With Remy under his toque blanche, Linguini is able to successfully perform the cooking duties set to him by Skinner. Remy's improvements on Gusteau's failed recipes help to revitalize the restaurant. Linguini also begins to develop a relationship with the kitchen's sole female cook, Collette. Skinner, suspicious of Linguini's newfound talents, comes to learn that Linguini is actually Gusteau's son and is the rightful owner of the restaurant, threatening his plan to use Gusteau's name to market a line of microwaveable meals. Remy happens across the documents showing Linguini's lineage and Gusteau's will, and manages to get them away from Skinner and to Linguini; Linguini rightfully takes his place as the restaurant's owner, firing Skinner. Meanwhile, Remy encounters Emile looking for food outside the restaurant, and is reunited with the pack. Django warns Remy again of how humans see rats as vermin, but Remy is adamant about to try to change this. Over subsequent nights, Remy reluctantly brings food from the restaurant to Emile and his growing group of friends.

One day, food critic Anton Ego, who had cost Gusteau's one of its star ratings in past, pays a surprise visit and informs Linguini that he will be doing a new review the following day. The pressure on Linguini causes him to have a falling out with Remy, who retaliates by leading the pack on a raid of the kitchen's foodstocks. Discovering the theft, Linguini tells Remy he never wants to see him again. Remy and Linguini realize the next day that they need each other, When Remy returns to the restaurant, having escaped Skinner's attempt to trap him, Linguini finally introduces him to the rest of the staff. Everyone walks out on him, disgusted at the deception, but Collette returns to help after remembering Gusteau's motto.

Remy calls on his pack to help out in the kitchen, coordinating their efforts to cook dinner and subdue a health inspector whom Skinner tipped off, while Linguini becomes head waiter. When Ego arrives, Remy decides to make a variation on ratatouille for the critic with Collette's help. Ego finds the dish amazing, reminiscent of his mother's cooking from his childhood, and asks to meet the chef in person. Only after all the other customers have left does Linguini bring Remy out from the kitchen. Ego is confused at first, but the next day a glowing review of the restaurant appears in the newspaper, praising its chef as the greatest in all of France. Despite the positive review, the restaurant is soon shut down by the health inspector due to the presence of rats, and Ego loses his job and his credibility. However, he eagerly helps Linguini and Collette start a successful new bistro, "La Ratatouille," with a kitchen featuring elements for Remy's use, and serving both humans and rats.

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