Ten Deep 09.05.13: Top Ten Movie Rodents
Posted by Mike Gorman on 09.05.2013
From Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Remy in Ratatouille to Mickey Mouse, the R.O.U.S.'s from Princess Bride and more, 411's Mike Gorman breaks down the top 10 movie rodents of all time!
"Top Ten Movie Rodents"
Often it's the flashier cinematic animals that draw the attention of the masses. A top ten list about dragons, or horses, or even dogs? No one would thing it was odd. This week I wanted to give the spotlight to one of the smallest yet most prolific animals on film when you really think about it, the rodent. Be they rats or mice, rodents have had their tiny paws all over the movie industry for years, and today they get their moment in the sun as Ten Deep brings you the Top Ten Movie Rodents.
10. Ben in Willard & Ben
Many of the rodents on this list are cute, cuddly happy creatures who often serve to help other animals, humans included. I am starting the countdown this week with a rat that developed a taste for blood in his two cinematic appearances. Ben first appeared in 1971's Willard and then headlined his own sequel Ben, which even spawned an Oscar nominated song (see below.) As pleasant as Michael Jackson's own to this rat is, Ben is a vicious beast that leads other rats to attack human beings. I felt that for my own safety Ben had to be a part of this list!
9. Rat the Rotter in The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Another villain, Rat from The Fantastic Mr. Fox is on the side of the farmer's working security for Bean, the Scoundrel. He has no loyalty to other animals and is played with a hint of dark whimsy by Willem Dafoe. In the end he has one last fight with Mr. Fox that leads to his tragic undoing; there is high drama in this world beneath our feet. Rat's style fits in perfectly with the other characters in the film and his scenes are memorable, though in the end it is like Fox says, "He's just another dead rat..."
8. Fievel in An American Tail
Fievel is just what the doctor ordered, if your doctor has ordered you a terminal dose of the cutest animated character ever to grace the big screen. Don Bluth's animated tail, er, tale of a family of mice immigrating to the United States and then searching for each other when separated by circumstance is a story packed with universal themes and some memorable characters, like young Fievel. In the clip below we see the film's signature song as presented in the movie. If you can get through this without at least a quivering lip, you may not have a human soul.
7. Basil in Great Mouse Detective
For some reason The Great Mouse Detective has never really been counted amongst the many Disney animated classics out there but this take on Sherlock Holmes is worth more than a quick glance. The film retains many of the darker and mysterious elements of a Holmes' tale while injecting a bit of Disney color. Basil, the Sherlock substitute, fills the screen with his tiny presence as most good Sherlock's do. This detective does indeed turn out to be great when all is said and done.
6. Remy in Ratatouille
Remy, the lead in Disney Pixar's Ratatouille, is not like your average rat. He doesn't want to hide from humans with his kin, instead he is inspired by cooking and the world of food. Remy's adventure is all about showing us that being different can be a good thing, though in the end as great as his cooking is, accepting a rat in the kitchen is a challenge. This doesn't deter Remy from his passion though and in this instance, we can all learn something from a rat.
5. Rodents of Unusual Size in The Princess Bride
In the world of The Princess Bride there is a Fire Swamp that contains three terrors. The first two are pretty easy to handle if you know what you're doing, they are the fire spurts and lightning sand. The third terror is a bit harder to handle and they are the number five rodent on this week's list, the R.O.U.S. Aka the Rodents of Unusual Size. They are not interesting characters, they don't teach us anything, but they are giant nasty rodents who give Wesley and Buttercup a fair amount of trouble in the swamp; and they have since become one of the more memorable moments from this cult classic.
4. Mrs. Brisby in The Secret of NIMH
I'd say of all the rodents on this list, Mrs. Brisby in The Secret of NIMH is the one that goes on the most spectacular of journeys and grows the most throughout her film. She is plain and simple a mother who wants to ensure the safety of her children, and she possesses an amazing strength that it takes many tests to reveal. By the end of the film you know she is the true hero of the story, and possibly one of the best heroes ever presented in an animated film.
3. Templeton in Charlotte's Web
In 1973's Charlotte's Web we get introduced to a rodent of a different sort. He is not a wise guardian or a hero on a journey, but he is truly unique and fascinating. One of the major reasons Templeton stands out is that he was portrayed by campy comedian and TV legend Paul Lynde, if you're not sure who he is, shame on you and Google it! Lynde's wit and humor shine through the gray fur of this rat as he makes his way through the dramatic story at the core of Charlotte's Web. For me, his most memorable moment is in the clip below. We learn what a dream come true would be for a rat when Templeton gets to enter the fair after it is closed. He does not waste a moment!
2. Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Do I really need to write a long description explaining why Master Splinter has made this list? I certainly hope not as this mentor to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is clearly the most bad-ass rodent to ever grace the big screen. He rescues the tiny turtles after they are exposed to the radioactive Ooze and raises them to be true warriors, in mind and body. For all the chaos that is the turtle, Splinter is the calming presence at the center of their storm. His impact is felt even after he is gone.
1. Mickey Mouse in Fantasia & Steamboat Willie
If you are a regular reader or you know me personally, you had to know that this rodent was going to find his way into Ten Deep this week but don't get me wrong, I feel like I am being a pretty objective fan when I give him the top spot. Mickey Mouse got his start in an 8 minute cartoon short (see below) and has showed up since then in films like Fantasia and many other properties both in the theaters and other venues. I gave him the top spot because he is certainly the most inspiring and powerful of the rodents when it comes to the creative market and pop culture in general. There has literally been a "World" built around him by the great Walt Disney. He has gone beyond starring in films and TV shows and is possibly the most recognizable branded mascots in the world. When you look at the Disney empire today and how far it reaches, Mickey's place is solidified at its core by the words of Walt himself, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse."
Does this week's list take the cheese or did I fall into a trap? Let me know in the comments below!
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