Cartoon animals are an easy favourite on cinema screens. They’re cute, cuddly and they talk, not to mention that some of them have a penchant of cracking some really crude jokes.
Every year animated film studios work hard to screw up the minds of the young and impressionable (Read: Talking dogs are seriously not normal). We have to admit that talking animals (live and animated) are freaky, especially when they break out into song.
That said, while most of the recent cartoon movies involving animals are geared towards grown-ups, the young-ins definitely can enjoy the fun as well.
We take a pick of 10 cool cartoon critters that stir our hearts and imaginations, which definitely does not include any helium-voiced chipmunks.
A mute clay dog: Gromit from Wallace & Gromit
The silent dog and pet of eternally clueless Wallace has gone to the moon, fought a robber penguin, chased down a wererabbit and been at the wrong end of his master’s bizarre contraptions, but has still been steadfastly loyal. He also wants nothing more than to knit, have his crackers with cheese in peace and read thick books (such as The Republic by Pluto). He first arrived on screens in 1989 with his master Wallace on a BBC special, and since then has become an international star, with his feature film debut in Curse of the Wererabbit in 2005. The mute dog is still the best straight man, or rather mutt, in the business.
A chop-socking panda: Po from Kung Fu Panda
The portly panda went from being a noodle shop assistant to a kung fu master by embracing his unique rotund qualities. His first movie took in a cool US$630 million worldwide, and now the fattest Dragon warrior of them all is once again hitting screens with The Furious Five to save Kung Fu from a scheming peacock. There’s still debate as to whether he’s the best fighter in the jianhu, but he’s definitely the fastest eater!
A blue bear (or cat) with amazing gadgets: Doraemon
This earless Japanese robotic kitty has been around since 1969. He is sent back by Nobita Nobi’s great-great-grandson from the 22nd century to take care of the not-very-hardworking schoolboy. Doraemon’s pouch, which conceals a seemingly endless number of inventions, including time travel devices and a cap that allows you to fly around, is every kid’s dream. The cool cat is so famous that he’s been chosen as Japan’s “anime ambassador”, and he’s still popping up in new movies every year. Now, can we get our future descendents to send us one as well?
A rat that cooks: Remy from Ratatouille
A French rat with a highly developed sense of smell, the star of Pixar’s Ratatouille proved if there ever was a Top Chef: Animal Edition, he’d be last one left cooking. He learns to control the imbecilic Linguini by pulling his hair like a marionette, in order to create amazing culinary concoctions in a Parisian restaurant. Remy even manages to impress Paris’ most highly acclaimed food critic, and you know how vile those reviewers can get.
A talking crab with a Jamaican accent: Sebastian from The Little Mermaid
The hermit crab assigned to look after Ariel from The Little Mermaid (1989) was one of the creatures that spiced up the Hans Christian Anderson adaptation, as well as sold thousands for Disney’s merchandising division. The crab, who sounds like a Jamaican cook, racks up some hot musical numbers from reggae and calypso and also conducts an underwater orchestra. The crab proved to have a career beyond the film, and has produced an album of reggae hits as well as appearing in the little seen Little Mermaid sequels.
A cute cuddly lion pup that grows into a powerful king: Simba from The Lion King
Simba, the main character in Disney’s 1994 runaway hit The Lion King, and the movie featured hits by Elton John and Tim Rice, grew from outcast to become the king of the African plains. Drawn into a Hamlet-inspired story, Simba grows up to confront his evil uncle, and knew how to bring the pain and take revenge for his dad. The movie has also spawned a hit Broadway musical, directed by Julia Taymor, which is currently playing at Marina Bay Sands. We’re also likely to see a 3-D version of the original film roaring into cinemas later this year.
A stingy old duck: Scrooge McDuck from Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
The richest duck (who happens to be from Scotland) in the world has enough money to make some billionaires envious, but behind that Scottish bill also lurks the heart of a treasure hunter, who’s got a soft spot for his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. He’s ensured they’re financially literate, and taught them about the powers of thrift, as well as the laws of supply and demand. Forbes estimates the Duck’s wealth at $28.8 billion; which makes McDuck the richest fictional character of them all. Considering his thrifty ways, he’s one banker that didn’t need a bailout. Maybe someone should send him down to Wall Street to teach those fund managers a thing or two.
A swashbuckling cat with a Spanish accent: Puss in Boots in Shrek
It wasn’t easy to decide between this and Donkey, the other animal character from the Shrek franchise, but we have to give the edge to the kitty. After all, who would you choose? A snazzy, orange tabby skilled with a rapier and voiced by Antonio Banderas; or a wisecracking mule with the voice of Eddie Murphy? Furthermore, besides being around a lot longer, (the original fairy tale he’s in was done in 1697) he’s getting his own movie at the end of the year, which showcases his adventures before being sent to assassinate Shrek, and also before he could compete with Po in an eating contest.
A hunny-lovin pantless bear: Winnie the Pooh
The bear of very little brain returns for a new movie this year, and Disney head honcho John Lasseter is overseeing the bear’s journey to Thousand Acre Word with his friends. Best thing about the Pooh bear’s return, might be hearing how Zooey Deschanel will be providing the songs for the remake, which should only help bolster the bear’s popularity all over again. Created by AA Milne in 1924, both Pooh and Piglet have been used by author Benjamin Hoff to explain Taoism. We wonder if he explained why Pooh doesn’t wear any pants?
A wise-cracking wabbit: Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes & Space Jam
The most popular character of the Looney Tunes series, the carrot chomping bunny is still a big star, and in his illustrious career he outsmarted a host of characters from Elmer Fudd to Daffy Duck, and even faced down Hitler during the Second World War. The wascally wabbit might be 61 this year, but there’s a thing or two he can teach some other cartoon animals about longevity and putting down your foes.