Over the course of movie history, there have been countless examples of animals who can, for some reason or other, talk, and for the most part studio executives believe that if you’re an animal, you must speak in “clever” clichéd dialog that makes the audience want to commit animal cruelty. The number of punch-in-the-face worthy talking animals is frightening, without even getting into the cartoon and CGI realm, so let’s not even go there. But fortunately for our sanity (and this list), some diamonds in the ruff (see what I did there?) do exist. Whether it’s thanks to the performance, or the animation, or the story, occasionally one talking animal shines brightly through.
The really bad ones stick out in our mind, too, and so in honor of this fact, Screen Junkies presents…
“The Ten Best and Worst Wisecracking Movie Animals.”
Above: Typecasting at its finest.
It’s not coincidence that most of the horrors known as talking animals come from kid’s movies. Hollywood seems to have decided that most of the kid population is stupid, and will swallow up anything that comes out of an animal’s head. While this is, in some part, true, it’s no excuse for some of the shite they shed onscreen, and two of the splattered turds are none other than Buzz and Scuzz, voiced by Steve Harvey and David Spade, a couple of wisecracking fly buddies who love being useless jabbering additions to an already thin plot. I wonder if Spade ever realized how perfectly the role suited him.
Above: Jason Lee counting how many more seconds he thinks he can last before he ritualistically kills all the Chipmunks.
How can words even begin to describe this monstrosity? I mean, obviously the second we heard they were making a movie adaptation we knew Hollywood would find another way to rape our childhoods – like a rich businessman trying a different slut every week to find the best bang for his buck. We just underestimated how truly awful it was going to be – how anyone can call Alvin singing “Don’cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me” entertainment is beyond anyone with a brain, which is precisely wh the American public gobbled it up and ensured a sequel. And I do hope Jason Lee fired his agent. I mean, with “My Name is Earl” going strong, what kind of an idiot would pick such a conspicuously abysmal film like this again?
Above: Why the expression "WTF?!" was coined.
Well, this is awkward.…..hello again Jason, voice of Underdog (speaking of childhood rape). They both came out in 2007, a double whammy for Mr. Lee, though while Alvin was a smash shit, this one didn’t eve break $70 million, which means Lee (or his agent) probably hasn’t learned his lesson and we’ll soon be hearing more of his dry voice coming out of cheesy talking animals. If you want to retain any good memory of the cartoon, I implore you, do not watch this movie.
Above: If I ever wanted to see Chris Rock as a dancing Guinea Pig, I would have just shot myself and gone to Hell.
One movie that epitomized and fulfilled the potential for awful talking animal dialog was Eddie Murphy’s bastardization of the classic children’s tale, Dr. Dolittle, “updated” so that the animals all talked in joky one-liners relating to the fact that hey, they’re a dog, or hey, they’re a cat, or hey, guinea pigs think Eddie Murphy needs tic tacs – the most annoying character in the entire movie, by far, an African-American Guinea Pig voiced by a screaming Chris Rock. Really, Hollywood? Really? (As if this isn’t enough, the upcoming G-Force stars crime-fighting Guinea Pig Heroes.)
Above: Yes, even Breckin Meyer looks disappointed to be working in this film.
Garfield is no doubt one of the all time great and most enduring newspaper comic characters, so of course Hollywood had to dig deep and find a way to ruin it with a movie. Aside from the butchering of the story (Jon and Liz have a romance!!), Bill Murray’s valiant effort at voicing the uncaring cat fell flat thanks to the pathetic script, culminating in a chokingly awful scene where Garfield dances to James Brown’s “I Feel Good.”
Above: Don’t look directly at the loincloth!
As silly and ludicrous and downright stupid as George of the Jungle was, one bright spot was John Cleese’s take on an ape named “Ape”, the talking Gorilla. Everything coming out of the gorilla’s mouth was thus that much funnier because it was Cleese’s voice. He was like a goldmine in the sea of crap that was George of the Jungle. Okay, maybe that’s not the best metaphor.
Above: A fat cat bent on world domination. Can Oliver Stone cast him in Wall Street 2?
Sometimes, you have to sift through the shit to get to the gems, and at the center of this ho-hum exploration of cats & dogs’ eternal rivalry is Mr. Tinkles, in a perfect performance by Sean Hayes, who played the flamboyant Jack on TV’s “Will & Grace.” The voice was ridiculous evil incarnate, and with the character of a pampered fluffy tabby cat bent on world domination, Hayes managed to give us an entertaining and uncompromisingly silly villain.
3. Chance, from Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
Above: This is not the Golden Gate Bridge you are looking for.
You just gotta love Chance. He always keeps an upbeat attitude, and he’s always getting into all sorts of shenanigans that get Shadow the Golden Retriever and Sassy the Siamese Cat into horrible dangerous trouble. He’s just such a card! Plus, Michael J. Fox was able to give Chance a clueless yet determined attitude that made him tolerable and not throw-off-a-cliff annoying. I mean, how can you not think this dog is the most awesome dog in the world for an eight-year old boy to have?
Above: Babe pummels Charlotte’s Web with a third-round TKO.
Though most of us continue to munch on delicious dead animal crunchy bacon to this day, throwing in a duck or turkey or even singing field mice in there for good measure, who can forget the original knockoff of Charlotte’s Web, Babe, one-upping the original by changing the message from “killing pigs is wrong” to “killing pigs is wrong and hey they also make pretty f**king great sheep dog replacements.” Plus, if you didn’t cry when James Cromwell assured Babe that “that’ll do, pig” while God’s light shone from the heavens, you’re pretty much a Nazi.
Above: They’re cockraoches that drink beer and smoke cigars. Any questions?
The only thing you need to know is that this is quite simply the best example in the history of cinema of talking animals. They’re not cuddly and chokingly cute, and they don’t just talk: they sing and dance in a dirty-as-sh*t bathroom. That, my friends, is class. And enough to be the best.
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