Groundhog Day is fast approaching, and America is prepared to meet it, as always, with a collective, “Huh.” Rather than just pay lip service to this high holiday, I would like to take a moment and discuss what Groundhog Day means to me. Every year, Groundhog Day serves as a reminder to take a little time out of my day and appreciate all the rodents that make life worth living.

Sadly, I don’t have many rodent friends in real life. I keep a clean house and largely steer clear of Koreatown, so most of my rodent encounters are in the movies. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less profound. Here are five furry rodents that bring me enough joy to fight off the crippling pain of the nightmare that is my life.

Fievel Mousekowitz – An American Tail

I’ll be honest, when I was introduced to Fievel in 1986, I was six years old and the Cold War was still in full swing. Needless to say, as a red-blooded American boy, there was no one on this earth I hated more than that Commie rat bastard.

However, a few years later, Rocky IV taught me that we all can change, and as I grew, I realized that not only was it time to forgive, but that An American Tail took place in 1885, long before such a thing as communism even existed. As such, I began to empathize and even like Fievel as a symbol of not only the American Dream, but as a an adorable mouse, albeit a filthy Russian one.

I’ll be honest. I still have pretty mixed feelings about Fievel Mousekowitz, even now. But I want to stop hating him for being Russian, so putting him on this list is a small step for me.

Theodore the Chipmunk – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

I’m not THAT partial to Theodore, but I wanted to include a Chipmunk, and I find the other two insufferable. Alvin is a Paris Hilton-type who would probably wither up and die if he didn’t get attention for three seconds, and Simon is like a furry Woody Allen, which is better than a regular Woody Allen, but still not that great.

Theodore is fat and dumb, just like most of my friends, so it’s pretty clear that I have a type. Also, Theodore’s innocence would make it easy for me to exploit him, which I would definitely do.

Remy – Ratatouille

Remy is a paradox we often see in film. That of a beastly or dirty creature having a heart of gold. Rats are considered disgusting animals because they’re very, very disgusting. If I found out that a rat was cooking my three-Michelin star dinner, I would be very upset indeed. I’d be all, “I ordered this coq au vin WITHOUT the bubonic plague, thank you!” Then the restaurant would comp my dessert, and I would have a great story to tell my friends.

However, that’s real life. In Ratatouille, Remy is an adorable rat that is alienated by his brethren because he’s not content with eating whatever’s laying about.

I feel like Remy and I would be friends if we ever met.

Danger Mouse – Danger Mouse

Not to be confused with one-half of the electronic soul group Gnarls Barkley, Danger Mouse was a send up of British spy tropes, and a very clever one at that. This is not why I got turned on to Danger Mouse. I enjoyed Danger Mouse because it was on Nickelodeon while I was growing up, and I enjoyed EVERYTHING on Nickelodeon.

Danger Mouse wore an eyepatch, which clearly indicates that he lived a life of danger. Hence the name, I guess. I also enjoyed very much the fact that he seemed to constantly be “Porky Piggin’ it.” For those without their fingers on the pulse of fashion, Porgy Piggin’ it entails wearing a shirt with no pants, and it was a fashion statement I made often as a small child, then again for a brief time in college.

World-weary spy, fashion icon – Danger Mouse did it all.

Punxsatawney Phil – Groundhog Day

Of course, with Groundhog Day breathing down our neck, Phil is the impetus for this list, but he’s so much more than that. He’s the symbol of the futility of man’s existence, a simple animal whose ability to see his shadow can determine whether we mire away in winter or bloom in spring.

Also, he’s got these little teeth and whiskers and a man in a hat knocks on his underground door with a cane. It’s so friggin’ cute!

The Gopher – Caddyshack

If there was a lifetime achievement award for human performances alongside rodents, I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone more deserving than Bill Murray. The man really elevates his game when he finds himself sharing a scene with a rodent, and nowhere is that more apparent than in his scene-stealing performance as Carl the groundskeeper, who is just trying to do his job and keep the damn grounds without this furry son of a whore burrowing to and fro all the live-long day.

Arthur Quiller-Couch posited that all fiction adheres to one of seven plot structures: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man against God, Man vs. Society, Man in the Middle, Man & Woman, Man vs. Himself

I’m guessing that Carl’s plight falls under “man vs. nature,” but I really think, going forward, “man vs. gophers” should get its own category.

Master Splinter – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Too often, rodents are portrayed as “adorable” or “misunderstood,” when all along what we really wanted them to be portrayed as is “wise” and “Asian.” Enter Splinter, a mutant rat who taught the Ninja Turtles everything there is to know about the way of martial arts, all the while contending with Michaelangelo’s monkeyshines.

Not to get off on a tangent, but Michaelangelo was really disrespectful. Splinter took in these turtles to fight Krang and the F.O.O.T. Soldiers, but Michaelangelo was almost myopically focused on pizza and “partying.” In hindsight, I’m surprise that he didn’t cause at least one turtle's death.

My main reason for including Splinter is because I like it when my rodents have osteoporosis and require walking sticks.

Honorable Mention

The Raccoons from The Great Outdoors

You know, the ones that talk? They’re the best. They aren’t given the second-class designation of “honorable mention” because of a lack of awesomeness or hilarity, but rather because they aren’t actually rodents! Can you believe it? They belong to the family procynidae, whereas rodents belong to the family rodentia.

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