by David Christopher Bell
There’s totally nothing wrong with a bonding between man and beast, but it feels like such relationships are often trivialized thanks to how sensational we make them in films. Teaching your dog to sit and stay is cool, but in the movie world you’d need to at least teach him to solve crimes or play basketball to really turn heads.
Anything less is just everyday stuff.
It’s because movies tend to over-personify animals that we often forget just how extraordinarily talented they’re portrayed as, and how weird some of the relationships are. Here are some of the weirder ones…
8. Indiana Jones and the monkey double agent in Raiders Of The Lost Ark
It’s not a terribly big role as far as monkeys in films go ‐ but when you think about it, this little capuchin played a huge part in the film’s plot. First of all ‐ it was a Nazi monkey. Seriously ‐ we see it give a little salute at one point in the film, so it’s learned to affiliate itself with the party of Hitler… that alone is a little much for one monkey, but more importantly ‐ out of all the Indiana Jones films, this monkey is the only character to betray Indy and never be exposed for doing so.
Sure ‐ in the end karma does its thing and the little traitor gets itself poisoned, but even in death Dr. Jones never suspects that this little shit has not only been leading the enemy right to them during its recon mission, but that it’s also solely responsible for getting Marion kidnapped. When she hides in a wicker basket it’s the monkey who shows the bad guys which one she is under.
After Marion is presumed killed, Indy finds himself drunk and in mourning, the monkey being his only comfort at the moment. Little does he know that what he’s using to remember his fallen love is the very creature responsible for it all. That’s some sneaky monkey business.
7. Linguini and his secret rat chef in Ratatouille
There’s a lot wrong with what’s going on in this film. When you think of the words ‘rat puppet’ put together you’d normally assume it to be describing a puppet that resembles a rat as opposed to a puppet controlled by a rat ‐ and most importantly you’ve never assume a human being to be the said puppet. It’s all messed up. But Linguini is the kind of lost soul that will allow a found rodent to physically control him through pulling on his hair while hidden under a toque blanche.
How does that work exactly? Clearly Linguini has some medical problem if yanking on his hair causes him to lose control of his limbs, but hey ‐ it’s a cartoon.
All that aside, what personally would scare me if I were Linguini wouldn’t be the realization that there’s a rat that perfectly understands English and knows how to cook, but rather the realization that would come later in the film when the one rat then teaches a whole army of rats to help him.
What else could these rats learn to do?
He never seems to be disturbed by the sudden discovery that rats can organize and operate tools while working toward a common goal. How would that not keep him awake at night?
6. Ann Darrow and her giant friend-zoned ape in King Kong
Seriously ladies ‐ this is what happens when you string along a guy for too long. Although in all fairness it’s not exactly like Ann had a choice in her actions when it came to her relationship with the big ape ‐ like most real world cases, it seems like Kong is really leading himself on. Fellas, if she runs away from you into the jungle before a bunch of her friends chloroform you, it’s probably not going to work out.
What makes this kind of weird is that we see a whole pile of Ann’s skeletal predecessors when the monster first captures her. That makes her the first sacrifice that Kong didn’t feel the need to kill. Instead of hulk-smashing her or sucking the meat off her bones like a cartoon fish, Kong kept this one because he thought it was kind of pretty or something. It’s kind of weird when you think about it, like suddenly befriending a lobster at a seafood restaurant.
I can see the appeal of course; who wouldn’t want their own little pocket-sized lady that did vaudeville tricks? And if you’ve spent your whole life trapped on some shitty island, that’s probably worth killing and dying for. Hell, I write for the internet ‐ if I got a tiny lady that juggled and did flips for me that would be 100 times the excitement I normally get in a day.
5. Willard and his rat army in Willard
This is exactly what I was talking about before with Ratatouille ‐ the film Willard is essentially its dark sequel. You spend an unhealthy amount of time not just training, but also socializing with rats and you see what happens. That’s kind of what makes Willard’s story so silly ‐ in the original film the rat army eventually kills Willard, and you can’t help but wonder what the police report said about the whole thing. Can you imagine the people in the town? “Hey what happened to that Willard guy?” “Well rumor has it that he started a camaraderie with a bunch of rats in his house and then it all kind of went sour.”
It’s really one thing to do battle with rats, it’s a whole other thing to have a violent falling out with them ‐ that actually means that you’re so unpopular that the rats you used to hang out with don’t like you anymore. And then to lose to the rats! That’s inexcusable. It’s worse in the remake because he barely escapes the rats and then gets committed. Imagine having to be all crazy jacket in your cell knowing that people are walking by saying shit like “Oh yeah, that’s the guy who got beat up by a bunch of rats.” I’m surprised they would even feel the need to restrain someone like that.
It’s still not the weirdest human/rat situation in a film though…
4. Ron and his rat that’s really been some dude all along in Harry Potter
This is just painfully awkward. It is revealed mid-series that Ron’s rat, Scabbers, is actually Peter Pettigrew, a dude on the lam. By dude I mean… like some guy. Just some guy that’s been disguised as this little kid’s rat for years and years. Think about the things you allow your pet to be privy to that you wouldn’t allow some random dude to be a part of. Ron’s essentially has had his entire personal pubescent years shared with this guy. Yikes.
Can you imagine making eye contract after that? Ron takes it pretty well when he first finds out, acting more betrayed than anything else. Very surprising because personally if a pet that witnessed all my intimate teenage hours suddenly gained the ability to talk I would have no choice but to immediately kill it.
Then there is the talked about fact that all these years his two brothers have been carrying around a map that locates everyone’s whereabouts in real time at all times, which means that they no doubt have been seeing some dude’s name come up next to Ron’s at all times. ALL TIMES ‐ in class, in the bathroom, in bed… there’s just so many layers of the onion here, and every one of them is unsettling.
3. Carol Johnson and her dead husband dog in Fluke
This is certainly a random one. The film follows a dude who gets in a car accident and wakes up a dog ‐ pretty awesome so far, right? Later on the dog/man befriends another dog that has the voice of Samuel L. Jackson ‐ getting even more awesome isn’t it? Then all of a sudden Ron Perlman kidnaps him and things go a little south. It’s a weird film. At some point Eric Stoltz shows up and Samuel L. Jackson’s dog character reincarnates as a squirrel later on as well, which is what I now assume every squirrel would sound like if they talked.
Anyhoo ‐ the point is that the dog/man eventually seeks out his old family and pretty much haunts them in dog form ‐ desperately trying to make his ex-wife see that this golden retriever is really her dead husband. The weird part comes when he actually freaking manages to succeed at this. Can you imagine the realization not that your dog is your dead husband, but rather the realization that you just realized your dog is your dead husband? That’s an instant trip to a hospital. In the end our hero dog decides to leave his human family and go pursue life, no doubt resulting in some of the most crazy-sounding ‘lost dog’ posters in history.
2. Elwood P. Dowd and his giant drinking-buddy rabbit in Harvey
Technically not an animal but rather a mischievous mythological creature in the form of a giant rabbit, but it’s close enough. Of course for a lot of the film there is also the possibility that Harvey is simply the deranged delusion of an alcoholic mind, the Tyler Durden of tiny mammals.
Real or not, what makes Harvey the best buddy around is his ability to stop time for as long as he likes, mixed with his total willingness to piss the day away getting mega tight with James Stewart. How is that not the American dream right there? Sitting in a bar with a happy-go-lucky Stewart and knocking back martinis with an invisible figure of Celtic folklore that has a penchant for rabbit impersonation and total command of space and time.
Watching this film it’s hard to relate to those who find such an activity unhealthy. That being said, he is a bit of a freeloader so it’s also not hard to imagine putting him in a sanatorium ‐ if only to knock down the food bill. It’s really a matter of being buddies with someone vs. actually having to live with them ‐ while Elwood and Harvey are probably not the best roommates out there they surely are a blast to have a night out with.
1. Cinderella and her little animal servants in Cinderella
Seriously, this chick is messed the hell up.
Much like Willard she has a whole army of rodents ‐ only she dresses hers up and makes them help with her morning routine. What kind of messed up dynamic is that? When she rescues Gus the first order of business to get him a shirt to wear (no pants, by the way [what exactly is she wanting to cover up with just a shirt?] but just the top) along with a little Steve Zissou cap as well, the same as every other mouse. She uniforms and indoctrinates them into her little way of life ‐ but at no point does anything beyond that. She doesn’t really help them deal with the cat at all, does she? She’ll feed them and clothe them and that’s it ‐ just like servants. What kind of sicko is she?
Then comes the point in the film where the mice and birds all get together and make her something to wear! Luckily it’s more than just a shirt and a cap, and she prepares to bring it to the ball only to have it torn up by her sisters. Let’s say for a second that she did manage to take it with her, can you imagine the small talk that would follow? “Hey nice dress!” “Thank you! It was made by mice and birds!”
Watching this movie, has it every occurred to anyone that maybe there’s a reason her stepmother keeps her locked away inside all the time? Just throwing that out there.