Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Iceberg Arena: Beyond the Cat Countdown Part III

This is the third part of a three part series counting down the best animated cat movies I’ve seen. This post features animated canine and rodent cinema.

While I’m a certified cat person (complete with regaling loose acquaintances about how my cat sleeps with one paw over her eyes and twitches about when she has little kitty nightmares), I thought I’d make a minor concession to other pet owners following the Cat Movie Countdown in my last posts. Given that the world of animation is chock full of anthropomorphic creatures I could probably put together something (perhaps not a top ten) for bugs, horses, rabbits, monkeys, birds, foxes, bears, dinosaurs (there’d have to be a lot of words like ‘Before,’ ‘Land’ and ‘Time’ along with roman numerals not often seen by the movie-going public) and even pigs and elephants (who wouldn’t want to see Dumbo, Babar and Thailand’s Khan Kluay duke it out!).

However, I’m opting to stick to denser foliage. In a move that surely Chuck Jones and Tex Avery would appreciate, I’m presenting a list for the critters that chase cats and the ones that cats chase. I’ve listed them in countdown order, without reviews. Taken as a whole, mice movies tunnel a few notches below cats, and dog films dig even deeper, though I’d throw a bone to the plague dogs and Bolt.

Note that Disney is clearly comprised of dog people, or more likely, their research polls have shown that dogs are easier to merchandize to the family demographic. They have six about dogs compare to only one about cats.

Dog Movies:
10. Balto
9. Snoopy Come Home
8. Oliver & Company (dog movie by dint of cast majority)
7. The Fox and the Hound
6. Lady and the Tramp
5. A Goofy Movie
4. All Dogs Go To Heaven
3. 101 Dalmatians
2. Bolt
1. Plague Dogs

Compiling the Mouse Movie list led to some controversy in the Film Walrus household as to what exactly should qualify (a frequent debate during the list item brainstorming sessions held between me and Katie). We wanted to include rats, so we expanded the title to make it a rodent list. Then the question of “The Wind in the Willows” (1983) and “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” (1949) came up, since they star a mole. I correctly argued that moles are not rodents. Chipmunks, however, are.

Mice Movies (and other rodents):
10. The Chipmunk Adventure
9. An American Tail
8. Fun and Fancy Free
7. The Rescuers Down Under
6. Blood, Tea and Red String
5. The Rescuers
4. The Great Mouse Detective
3. A Mouse and His Child
2. The Secrets of NIMH
1. Ratatouille


Mad Dog said...

I knewwwwwwwwwww Bolt had to be good.

Molly said...

I have for years held a grudge against The Secret of NIMH for what my 10-year-old self regarded as a rather distressing adaptation of a captivating book, but perhaps it's worth another look.

Molly said...

Also, Wind and the WIllows-wise, what about Ratty?

Mad Dog said...

About the Secret of NIMH; while it may have some generic kids' fantasy movie trappings, certain parts of it hold up extremely well on their own terms. Nicodemus' recollection of their origin and escape from NIMH is pretty spellbinding to this day.

FilmWalrus said...

Exactly Why,

My issue is that ratty is clearly not the main character of Wind in the Willows. I think you could call it a mole movie (since he opens the story and narrates) or a toad movie (since he dominates the action), but I thought it would be disingenuous to include include an unambiguous soricomorpha (we're not talking a mole-rat here, which would be a different story) on a strictly rodentia list.

Exactly Why (2),
You are right that the book is better. The magic amulet was an especially poor addition to the story. But consider the artwork if nothing else. I love the way almost every shot has cool spots and hots spots that make regions appear to slightly recede or pop out. They played with a lot of neat color theory ideas for creating dimensionality and tone that give it a conspicuously more realistic and darker atmosphere.

Mad Dog,
I have to agree.

Molly said...

I suppose I'll concede about Wind in the Willows. I guess I'm just sort of a rat person . . .

I'll have to give Secret of NIMH another try - as I said, it's been a long time.

FilmWalrus said...

The below the radar rat movies worth seeing from the list are:

1) "A Mouse and His Child" which is one of those kids movies that can be read as a sort of coded philosophic treatise. It has a segment interrogating "infinity" in which the mouse stares at a can of dog food whose logo depicts a dog holding can of the dog food with the same logo ad infinitum. The mouse tries to peer "beyond the last dog" (the title of a beatnik poem-play within the film) in an attempt to gain enlightenment. It simply must be seen to be believed.

2) "Blood, Tea and Red String" - Basically a stop-motion class-warfare fable done entirely by one very talented and dedicated lady. I listened to the commentary for the entire film which mostly consisted of the interviewer asking if her symbolism was intentional and her replying that she doesn't know.

Molly said...