Total Recall: Our Favorite Talking Animals

Narnia's Aslan inspires us to put together a list of our favorite talking animal movies.

C.S. Lewis was no dummy. His Narnia books might have had all the necessary ingredients for success with the younger set -- sweeping drama, larger-than-life action, and the fate of the world hanging in the balance, to name a few -- but he must have known his ace in the hole was the fact that one of his main characters was a talking lion who wasn't afraid to tear things up when the bad guys got out of hand. (Why do you think "The Lion" got top billing in that first book? Duh.) Now that the second film in Disney/Walden's big-budget reimagining of the Narnia series, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, is heading to theaters, we here at RT thought it would be the perfect time to revisit some of our favorite theatrical talking animals.

Our parameters were fairly loose -- the movies had to be live-action, and the animals had to, you know, talk -- which enabled us to make our selections from across the animal kingdom without regard for Tomatometer, as you'll soon see. Prepare to relive your fondest (and not-so-fondest) memories of chatty fauna in Hollywood -- and, of course, to hit the comments section to take issue with our selections. It's Total Recall!

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10. Paulie

Given the level of animosity he seems to inspire wherever he goes, you'd think a movie where a character voiced by Jay Mohr spends most of his time locked up in a cage and squawking for pet food would be a big hit -- but unfortunately for Mohr, you'd be wrong. At 63 percent on the Tomatometer, Paulie is one of Mohr's better-reviewed films -- and okay, it stands out largely because it's lumped in alongside titles like Are We There Yet? and The Adventures of Pluto Nash, but still, Mohr is at his most consistently charming here, as an unusually loquacious parrot whose search for his original owner (Hallie Kate Eisenberg, in her screen debut) sends him on a series of incredible adventures. Plus, you get Buddy Hackett in his final role. What's not to like?


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9. Oh! Heavenly Dog

In one of the great cinematic pairings of the '80s, box-office heavyweights Chevy Chase and Benji teamed up here for a crime caper about a private eye (Chase) whose death leaves him stranded between afterlife destinations, giving him a chance to return to Earth in the form of a stray dog (um, Benji) so he can punch his ticket to heaven by solving his own murder. Chase received top billing, but this is really a Benji movie, as evidenced by the involvement of director Joe Camp, who had already helmed a pair of features and a TV movie with the canine star. Both Benji and Chase would go on to make better movies, but none of them would include love scenes between Jane Seymour and a dog.

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8. The Shaggy Dog

For their first live-action feature-length comedy, Disney took an unused television pilot and turned it into one of the most successful films of 1959 (good Lord, it even outgrossed Ben-Hur). Tommy Kirk, fresh out of Old Yeller and on the brink of starring in seemingly every single live-action feature Disney made between 1960-65, takes the spotlight here as Wilby Daniels, the goggle-eyed teenage na�f who, thanks to a surprisingly intricate plot too complicated to go into here, winds up shuttling unpredictably back and forth between dog and human form. Though not exactly a critical favorite, The Shaggy Dog stands at a respectable 69 percent on the Tomatometer -- and was, perhaps most importantly, responsible for Fred MacMurray's late-period reincarnation as the go-to guy for films in need of cardigan-rockin' dads.


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