Goodbye, Mr. Chipmunk: Pick the best rodent flick

King Chipmunk surveys all he owns — so far, not the indoors. Photo by Terry Byrne

I am an animal lover. Truly. But our home is under siege by chipmunks.

Oh, you think they’re cute? I’m so over that stage.

Check out the photo of one of the leaders, at left. That’s him, giving a speech, plotting their race’s next land grab.

Things went downhill with me and the rodents soon after eye surgery, when I could no longer distinguish the birdies visiting my squirrel-proof bird feeder.

There I was, two pairs of spectacles, opera glasses, camera zoom lens, trying to identify this new bird with the interesting stripe-pattern that would feast all day on premium crack seed. Finally I snapped a photo, analyzed it on the jumbo monitor: a bloody chipmunk!

NOT FOR YOU! Photo by Terry Byrne

Well, not bloody yet. Just let me at ‘im.

Kudos to the designers of these feeders — indeed, they are squirrel-proof — but NO ONE SAID A THING ABOUT CHIPMUNKS.

So I engineered a plan, endorsed by neighbor and friend Walt Wallmark (his actual name), to cover the rascal’s burrow with a brick. The chipmunk’s, not Walt’s. Within hours, our yard had been relandscaped like something out of Caddyshack, with multiple mounds and egresses.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating all manner of evil schemes — which I doubt even Walt would endorse — such as dropping poison pellets down their chutes. Buying a BB gun. Or donning camo and taking cues from this guy, a real-life Bill Murray-esque character:

Instead of resorting to such madness, though, I’ve decided to consider the rodent in context of the universe — even as art form. After all, according to the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mammals, at least half of all species of mammals belong to the order Rodentia — rodents — including gopher, beaver, groundhog, chinchilla, lemming, gerbil, guinea pig, hamster, squirrel and chipmunk. They go way beyond mice and rats, and there’s just no escaping them.

And because I just discovered the “polling” feature in WordPress, and must test it, I am asking my readers to choose their favorite movie starring rodents. You can choose among Caddyshack or any of nine other timeless titles, thus directing my proper response to these pests. Feel free to add any great titles I have missed in the comments section.

(Poll moved to top of blog — vote for as many as you like. If you need a refresher, descriptions and clips follow.)

1. Caddyshack (1980). Already covered. It’s WAR.

2. Willard (1871) & Ben (1972). If you can’t beat them, join them. In these classic rat tales, a loner befriends an army of rats, harnessing their power.

3. Ice Age (2002). This prehistoric squirrel, a Scrat, technically, makes me almost appreciate a rodent’s drive to survive at all costs. What he doesn’t know: He’s doomed. Gotta love his vulnerability. (This is not a clip from the movie; instead it’s his own spinoff short.)

4. Groundhog Day (1993). A superstitious approach to human-rodent co-existence. My take: Beware to those mocking the forces of nature. (Déjà vu, hasn’t Bill Murray already been on this list?)

5. Ratatouille (2002). Eat them? No, actually, if you watch the movie, it’s more like hire them as your butler. This is on the list because my adult daughter Miki would cry if she couldn’t vote for it.

6. Rats: Night of Terror (1984). Oh, the horror. I must credit my work pal Jon Briggs for this contribution. He also wanted me to include Food of the Gods (1976), but that seemed redundant. After watching this trailer, my chipmunks really don’t look so bad.

7. The Princess Bride (1987). Remember Rodents Of Unusual Size? A sweet reimnder to persevere. If these beasts can be licked, my problem should be a piece of cake.

8. Stuart Little (1999). Sorry for going heavy on the kids’ fare, but, really — it’s insane how many movies meant for children are actually TEACHING them that mice and rats are cute and cuddly, from Mickey Mouse to The Rescuers. This movie encourages nurturing of pests. (Couldn’t resist sharing this clip, which features heartthrob Hugh Laurie of “House” singing and playing his heart and soul out with another heartthrob Geena Davis.)

9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005). If you are confused why this title is on this list, let me say: Perhaps you have no business reading my blog. But, no! don’t stop now; you’re almost done!

10. G-Force (2009). Today’s guinea pig heroes are p.c. and can actually be purchased for use in the home (no pieces included in a Happy Meal, one hopes). This is the effect of marketing on children’s imaginations. I haven’t seen this movie, but the trailer looks halfway decent, for a formulaic kids’ movie, and I wanted some diversity on this list.

Notice that Alvin and the Chipmunksis missing. Spare me. I can’t deal. And when I went searching for “beaver” movies, I got undesirable – or desirable, depending on your view — results.


NOW, VOTE!

7 thoughts on “Goodbye, Mr. Chipmunk: Pick the best rodent flick

  1. I would’ve picked Willard, had it been the one with Crispin Glover! But I chose Ratatouille (only because the rodents in The Princess Bride, Groundhog Day, and Hitchhiker’s Guide are only secondary characters)!

  2. Crispin Glover SO overacted. The rat co-stars were probably better, though. I guess we each have a fondness for the Willard we grew up with — the original is like the boy from “Oliver!” all grown up. Thanks for voting!

  3. I don’t think he overacted! I think he made and committed to a choice to be a caricature of an eccentric/loner/killer, and I think it added greatly to the movie’s thriller aspect. But to be fair, I’ve never seen the original, so … 😛

  4. “Mousehunt” with Nathan Lane and that other guy whose name I can never remember. They destroyed that house! And “Of Unknown Origin” with Peter Weller. He destroyed his beautifully restored brownstone while attempting to kill the rat.

    • Good ones! And great lessons … we destroy our own environment trying to murder pests. And to them, we are probably the pests. The Nathan Lane one, no doubt, would be an automatic Broadway hit! teehee.

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