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ANIMAL MOVIES: THE BEST AND WORST
by Noel Wood

We have to live with it. Animal movies have become a staple in our culture over the past several years. It's impossible to ignore them. Yes, I cringe every time I see the latest preview of the new family film wherein the dog rides on the dolphin's back or where the town's stray panda bear wins the little league softball championship, but not EVERY animal movie is horrible. Who DIDN'T like BABE? I loved it, and so did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And there are more good animal movies out there as well, although the bad far outweighs the good in the long run.

Here I will develop two lists of movie critters...the worst and the best. But before I get in to the first of them, here's a couple of ground rules for the judgements made herewithin. First, the animal must be a live-action animal. This would include real living animal actors such as Bart the Bear, animatronic animals like the close-ups in Babe, or people in big furry suits like King Kong. No cartoon animals, which includes CGI. Nor do fantasy animals or extinct ones count. This means the dragon from DRAGONHEART and all those dinos on JURASSIC PARK are nixed, but I guess that falls under my CGI rule anyway.

First off, the top ten worst Movie Animals:

10. BEETHOVEN.
- Charles Grodin was in this movie, but that doesn't even begin to tell the story of what's wrong with it.

9. TOP DOG.
- Chuck Norris was in this movie, but that doesn't even begin to tell the story of what's wrong with it.

8. ED.
- Matt LeBlanc was in this movie, but that doesn't even begin to tell the story of what's wrong with it.

7. GORDY.
- Once again, the assholes at Disney have to try to corner the market on everything that is childrens' entertainment, and that includes making a retarded talking pig movie that doesn't come close to the charm of BABE. And this pig sings country music at a Karaoke bar. How lame can this get?

6. SHILOH.
- Who decided we needed yet ANOTHER dog movie? And besided being the name of my High School, wasn't Shiloh one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War? Great inspiration for a kid's movie. Maybe Stephen King should have used this name for his killer St. Bernard. Which leads us to...

5. CUJO.
- Stephen King can suck my dick. Sure, Cujo sounds like a mean dog name, but Shiloh would have been more fitting. This movie didn't scare me when I was a little kid and it doesn't scare me now. What does scare me is that millions of insipid Americans think that Stephen King is some fucking literary genius.

4. ANDRE.
- I was really upset that I sat through this entire film and didn't hear that L7 song of the same name.

3. FREE FRIGGIN' WILLY.

- He's lamp oil. How many times are we going to save this whale? See also my review of FREE WILLY 3.

2. ANY ONE OF THOSE PENGUINS WITH MISSILES STRAPPED TO THEIR BACKS IN BATMAN RETURNS.
- This is the REAL reason Tim Burton went in to a deep depression after this movie was released. What were you thinking, Tim?

1. THE FUCKING POLAR BEAR IN ALASKA.
- If you worked at the video store where this concept was born, you'd know why. If not, check your local video store's kiddie section for ALASKA and look at the stupid bear on the cover. Then think of a frighteningly anal retentive middle aged man telling you how he wanted to jump in to the TV and play with the bear because it was so cute...EVERY TIME he rented a movie. You should be ready to wretch by the time you leave the store.

And now, for the ten best movie animals...

10. SPECK.
- Pee-Wee's loyal companion. You see, he was there, he was cute, but you soon move on and focus on other elements of the film. You see, that's the way it works.

9. BABY.
- Not the rubber dinosaur. Cary Grant's Leopard.

8. AIR BUD.
- This goes against everything I believe in. I don't understand the appeal. Maybe it's because his name is "Air Bud". And he's dead. In fact, Bud was the only member of our 1997 Dead Pool list that I was able to collect upon. This after he had a bout with cancer and lost a leg. I've always wanted to own a three-legged dog just so that I could name it "Tripod".

7. OLD YELLER.
- Leave me alone. I liked Yeller as a kid. He was the best dog gone dog in the west. Hey, back then the animal movies were at least a bit inspired. I cried at the end, damnit. Of course I was only like 5 or so, but I cried. You're a man now, Toby.

6. OTIS.
- Hey, this was a neat movie. Maybe it was the appeal of Dudley Moore's narration, but I liked it. Did you know this movie was made in Japan? And THE BEAR was French? And BABE was Australian? I guess the best animal movies are made by foriegners.

5. MILO.
- Milo edges out Otis just because I prefer cats to dogs.

4. BABE.
- This talking pig kicks ass. I was hoping he would earn a best actor Oscar nod, but Farmer Hoggett did earn a best supporting actor Oscar nod. And he was supporting a pig! But Babe was not the best animal in this movie. Read forth...

3. VIRGIL THE CHIMP.
- Just because he played opposite of Ferris Beuller in PROJECT X.

2. VERA THE ELEPHANT.
- When I saw previews for LARGER THAN LIFE, I began to worry. Bill Murray supporting an elephant? Has the guy lost his mind? And Janeane Garofalo and Pat Hingle and Wooderson were in it too? So I broke down and watched it, and discovered thast unlike Denis Leary, Murray CAN carry an Elephant movie.

1. FERDINAND THE DUCK.
- Ferdie just stole the show from Babe. I don't know what it was about this duck. Perhaps it was his brash defiling of authority. Or his crowing like a rooster to avoid being eaten. Or the fact that he talks about doing the wild thing with hens in a kiddie flick. Whatever it is, Ferdinand wins hands (wings?) down.

I thought to include JAWS on the best list, but I wasn't sure how to do so. A lot of sharks played that killer Great White, along with Bruce the animatronic shark from the first JAWS film (the only one that counts, mind you). So Bruce gets an honorable mention. Any of the snakes in ANACONDA or lions in THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS (JAWS ripoffs in the Amazon and the Pampas respectively) do not.

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All Material Copyright 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.


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