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.

Comments

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

I thought the talking animals in The Golden Compass were cool.

May 14 - 06:25 PM

Mishmerized

Jonas Mieschbuehler

What! How did a human with a lion costume make the list? Its the worst animal portayal ever! If you want memorable, what about the whole cast in Dr Doolittle?

I am available for hire

May 14 - 06:52 PM

The Red Devil

Zach Simonson

Yeah, the Wizard of Oz being on this list is a travesty.

May 14 - 07:19 PM

iammusic17

brad niesmertelny

FINDING NEMO????? Dory????????

May 14 - 08:25 PM

CoUcH ToMaToE DoUgIe

Shawn Amoroso

what about homaward bound: the incredible journey? Now that was

a great movie with talking animals and i'm telling if Don Ameche's

performance of Shadow doesn't tear you up just a little...well you hate

animals, then. Also, great job with number 1, Babe was a masterpiece and

i still wish i had singing mice seperating the chapters in my ongoing life.

Also, lets not forget the voice of Babe,Christine Cavanaugh, also is

responsible for some famous voice overs including Chuckie Finster from the

rugrats, Dexter form Dex's Lab; and Oblina from Ahhh!! Real Monsters.

May 14 - 09:43 PM

CoUcH ToMaToE DoUgIe

Shawn Amoroso

Also, everyone lay off the King Of The Forest!!!! He's got

courage and he's not afraid to show off his medal to prove it ;)

May 14 - 10:01 PM

mashrur29

Mashrur Rahman

Alvin and the Chipmunks?

May 14 - 10:57 PM

atothec

Andrew Costello

I immediately thought of Finding Nemo.

Sad to see it isn't there...

May 15 - 12:25 AM

knowingtoast85

brian Firenzi

I have a feeling they were angling for live-action talking animals. Otherwise, Disney would own this list inside and out.

I truly believe "Babe" is one of the best movies of the 1990s.

May 15 - 02:06 AM

detroit666

Dawn HAvard

BORRRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE AS FREE AS THE....

Elsa the Lion - a REAL lion, unlike Aslan OR "The" Cowardly one....


How about them flying monkeys?

May 15 - 08:01 AM

scorpion_renderlord

Scorpion Renderlord

HOW DID JURASSIC PARK 3 NOT MAKE THIS LIST?? ..That one talking velociraptor that says "Alan" is quite possibly the single most memorable talking movie animal of all time.

May 15 - 10:03 PM

ecyoj

Joyce Hardin

Babe certainly deserved to be number one -- a great and charming film. Charlotte's Web was another worthy contender. Both films were fine narratives featuring accomplished actors with positive messages sorely needed in these times.

May 15 - 10:51 PM

MaleKim

Kim Metzger

Has anyone else ever wanted to see Disney try "Shaggy Dog" with a woman instead of a man. Yeah, I know what a female dog is called. But these days, even at Disney, it's a frequently heard term and they could have some fun with it. (Besides, it's a name a lot of women today are proud to wear.)

May 15 - 11:10 PM

minderbinder

anonymous anonymous

Definitely agree with Babe, one of my all time favorite movies. And the sequel is just as good, maybe even a little better. It's a real shame there was bad (and completely undeserved) buzz before it even came out, the sequel is one of the greatest, most overlooked and underrated kids movies of all time.

I think it's obvious that animated talking animals aren't on the list simply because it's a list of talking animals in live action films.

And I totally support Wizard of Oz being on there - great performance as the cowardly lion.

May 16 - 08:34 AM

dgcritic

dg critic

What about harry potter animals? I think buckbeak, the grey hippogriff was great!

May 16 - 09:49 AM

Kudama

Kudama Johnson

WTF??? WT****ingH!?!?

Where is Milo & Otis. That should be number one! That was Dudley Moore's masterpiece. They put Joe Apartment over Milo & ****ing Otis??? OK. Any minute now my alarm clock's gonna go off and I will awaken from this nightmare.

May 16 - 09:55 AM

mbwassell

Mary Wassell

Are we talking animated or non-animated?? If we go with animated- well Disney owns that realm. They can claim a big portion with the non-animated as well. Again- The Incredible Journey was great, and what about The Cat From Outer Space, Thomasina, and The Richest Cat in The World? Of course I loved the Francis movies (with Donald O'Connor). Of course how could we forget Wilbur- a horse is a horse, of course of course.

May 16 - 01:51 PM

mbwassell

Mary Wassell

Are we talking animated or non-animated?? If we go with animated- well Disney owns that realm. They can claim a big portion with the non-animated as well. Again- The Incredible Journey was great, and what about The Cat From Outer Space, Thomasina, and The Richest Cat in The World? Of course I loved the Francis movies (with Donald O'Connor). Of course how could we forget Wilbur- a horse is a horse, of course of course.

May 16 - 01:52 PM

alsanali

Alsan Ali

I'm just sad that Garfield is missing from the dishonrable mentions.

May 17 - 09:31 AM

Steviemus Prime

Steven Pryor

I'd add the egregious adaptations of Alvin and the Chipmunks to the dishonorable mentions. Those stupid rodents made $436 million on two movies, and now they're going to ruin any sane moviegoer's Christmas in 3D in 2011.

Jul 28 - 04:07 PM

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