A ‘Guinea Pig’ Reviews Pets In Movies

Xabi gives us his take on films featuring critters.

A guinea pig movie reviewer's job is never done. Via Hope For Gorilla/Flickr

It’s the end of the year and I am expecting all great things for our small animal kingdom in the year to come: More advocacy, more education and more movies! (Well, there’s nothing I enjoy more on a winter day than cuddling up in my cozy sack in front of the TV.)

To kick off the year, I want to review a few movies from the past that feature us in prominent roles. Now, I know some of you don’t believe we can carry a film, but even superstar Steven Spielberg produced a movie featuring a mouse! We have Hollywood cred, you know? So, check out these movies and let’s support our furry friends in film.

“An American Tail” (G), 1986, 4 Carrot Rating

How amazing is it that this film from 30 years ago is so timely today! An immigrant Russian mouse family leaves their homeland in search of the American Dream. What’s the dream? Well, for the Mousekewitz family, it’s a land with mouse holes in every wall where the streets are made of cheese. But the biggest draw is that there are no cats. (At least that’s what they’ve been told.)

So the family sails off to America with young Fievel anxiously dreaming of his new home. Tumultuous seas take Fievel overboard and away from his family. New York is a big place, but he’s determined to be reunited with them. I won’t give everything away, but there are powerful messages in this film that had me popcorning right out of my cuddle cup.

Never, ever give up.

  • “No Need to Feud & Fuss”. We have a lot in common even though we are different from one another.
  • “Somewhere Out There” … love can see us through. Yep, I’m humming the song right now from the film. You might remember it won the Academy Award. I honestly couldn’t stop crying when Fievel and his sister were both singing the song (in their squeaky little mouse voices) separated — yet looking at the same full moon — filled with the hope of reunion.
  • “America — What a Place!” A winking Lady Liberty on Ellis Island beckoning small animals everywhere to come to America for freedom — to a “place of hope.”

Like I said, timely even after 30 years. Watch it with someone you love.

“The Last Mimzy” (PG), 2007, 2½ Carrot Rating

I settled down into a soft patch of hay ready to watch what I thought would be a whimsical children’s tale about a loveable toy bunny. After all, how scary could a rabbit named “Mimzy” be? Well, if she came from the future packaged in a dark, sci-fi fantasy film with the Powers of the Universe in her stuffed, floppy arms … pretty darn scary!

A mysterious box washes up on a beach near Seattle and it’s discovered by a young brother and sister. Noah is captivated by the magic shells and crystals in the box, but Emma’s heartstrings are pulled by a purring toy bunny. (Yeah, I know. Cats purr, but bunnies? Well, I don’t know what they do — but I know it isn’t purr.)

Amazingly only little Emma can understand the language of magical Mizmy. And Mimzy has a message: “We have corrupted our DNA and precious Earth with pollutants but we have time to fix it!” Oh yeah, there are aliens, too, and futuristic scientists using mandalas to communicate. (Are you lost yet? I know! I was barely hanging on by a thread of hay I was now covering my eyes with.)

Telepathic Mimzy is the key to everything in this film, which is why I chose to review it. Hey, I know I would love for my Piggy Parents to be able to read my mind. “Yes, I seem very cozy right now but I really have to pee and you’re just not getting the signals I’m sending.” “I know you think I like broccoli because it’s ‘good for everybody’, but for me, it gives me gas. And that’s never a good thing.”

But with the FBI hunting down the family and so much pressure placed on a little girl to understand exactly what this bunny is telling her to do, well, I needed a stiff swig of my liquid Vitamin C to stop shaking.

So, if Sci-Fi is your thing, check out this film; you might be intrigued. If you’re wondering if there was a happy ending … Well, let’s just say “over time humanity blossomed again. Our world was saved by a child.” And one scary telepathic bunny.

“Bedtime Stories” (PG), (2008), 3 Carrot Rating

Now this was a whimsical child’s fable replete with fairy tale romance and raining gumdrops. Adam Sandler plays a hotel handyman who is under-appreciated at work and trying to get his rightful position of power at the hotel.

Circumstances cause his sister to need help with her two kids so he takes on the task of babysitting them at night. Although he knows nothing about childrearing, he does spin a good yarn and the kids encourage their uncle’s imaginative storytelling.

What he soon finds out is that the stories the children are embellishing with their own little details come to life the following day. It is pretty clever how the foretelling of the future is handled in this family comedy. But the real star of this show is Bugsy, the guinea pig the kids share their room with. OK, I didn’t really love my bug-eyed brother; the film would have been fine if Bugsy wasn’t lampooned into a cartoon character with bowling ball eyes.

There were a few things that prickled my fur a little bit. Cavy common-sense tells you that we don’t eat hamburger or s’mores, we don’t ring a bell when we want to sleep and we need a much larger cage to call home. (We need space to run, you know!) But other than that, I did love that the kids took Bugsy everywhere with them. And he lived happily ever after with a bride and lots of piggy children of his own.

“Ratatouille” (G), 2007, 4 Carrot Rating

Ah, La France! Gastronomy and Paree… what’s not to love? Rats in a kitchen — that’s what! But this is no ordinary rat. This is a Michelin-star deserving rodent of exquisite culinary acumen. Remy to the rescue. Speaking of rescue… Do you know how many small animals are being rescued every day and need good homes? (Sorry for the shameless plug but I couldn’t help myself especially since Yours Truly, Movie Critic Extraordinaire Xabi, is indeed a Rescue Piggy and proud of it.)

Back to the film. The animation and visuals of Paris are stunning and the musical score dreamy — reason enough to watch this Disney film. And we all know how much weight Walt Disney liked to put on the shoulders of rodents, right? Like his entire Empire!

But Remy steals the show and you’ll be laughing out loud at this film. (Even if you say you’re not into animation, just try it.) The comedic script is hysterical and stereotypes are challenged. Admonished by his dad to “shut up and eat your garbage,” Remy the Rat aspires to so much more. And with a willing human partner to pair with, anything can happen. The Prep Cook with no culinary skills bedazzles the Parisian elite by following Remy’s instructions and no one knows who’s truly behind the award-winning cuisine. Food Critics of France are rocked to their core as the story unfolds.

This is one of Disney’s finest animated films. Seek it out; you won’t be disappointed.

“G-Force” (PG), 2009, 5+ Carrot rating

And now, the best for last. The triumph that was G-Force! Never before has the cavy been celebrated and elevated to the stature we so deserve until this film. My tiny throat chokes up just thinking about the position of power we held assisting the FBI in true guinea pig glory. We were fierce, we were ingenious, we were a force to be reckoned with.

At last we were seen as more than mere “lab animals.” (Can we please put that phrase to bed already? As if being a guinea pig were something to be manipulated, prodded, experimented with. It’s 2016 for goodness sake!)

Before I close this last review of the greatest movie ever made, I must confess something. I am hopelessly in love with Juarez. That sultry siren and I would make the most beautiful cavy babies. She couldn’t resist me if she met me; we are both Spanish, after all. And I’m devastatingly handsome; she’s gorgeous. Xabi is waiting for you, Juarez, mi amor!

If there were more than 5 carrots to give a film, this would deserve it! There’s only one thing we can do now: Let’s wheek for the sequel!

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Critters · Lifestyle