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Correction to This Article
A July 1 Arts story on fictional animal-themed movies used the wrong creature to illustrate a film on llamas. The animal pictured was a guanaco.
The Equal Rats Movement: Critters Who Deserve Stardom

Sunday, July 1, 2007

We get the box office concept of the penguin, we do. It's the rat movies we don't get. Penguins can be sweet little buddies struggling to survive in a Harsh World ("March of the Penguins," opening weekend: $4 million). They can giggle and then dance like Savion Glover ("Happy Feet," opening weekend: $41 million). And boy, can they surf ("Surf's Up," opening weekend: $17 million).

And though we'll see anything starring or voiced by Kate Winslet, we could not be tempted by the rodent-sewer genre exercise that was "Flushed Away," although some found it tantalizing (opening weekend: $18 million). This weekend brought "Ratatouille," about a rat living in the walls of a Paris bistro who wants to be a chef. Julia Child: Rolling in her grave.

Perhaps there other cinematically underserved animals? A sea urchin with an attitude problem? A feisty mink trying to save his own skin?

-- Arts staff

"The Fur Will Fly"

After a tornado destroys her habitat, a sweet and innocent prairie dog (Emma Roberts) must find her way home with the help of a befuddled beaver (Dustin Hoffman) and a fearful but lovable mole (John Goodman). Along the way, they encounter a pelt-hunting French Canadian trapper (Gerard Depardieu) and PETA activists, who wish to "adopt" them.

"Me Llamo Mister Llama"

A llama on an organic farm in Maine feels compelled to travel to Borderville, Mexico, discovering love, mischief -- and an immigration compromise both Dems and Reps love. It's "El Norte" meets "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and is rated G (for major Goya brand product placement).

"Duckbill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"

An agoraphobic platypus (Ben Stiller) lives a life of emotional darkness until a family of wacky woodchucks moves in next door and teaches him how to socialize, shore-surf and get in touch with his true monotreme self. (Bonus: All the Baldwin brothers voice assorted waterfowl.)

"Sleeping With the Anenome"

Cute, 20-something jellyfish share a loft -- and love -- in this ironic rom-com starring Finn (Dane Cook) as the simple-minded, spineless lug hot for Lola (Kelly Clarkson), the sassy suckerfish. But he can inherit a thousand clams only if he weds the wealthy Jessica Albacore (Jessica Simpson).

"Eats Shoots, and Leaves"

A Sirkian melodrama. Mei Xiang (voiced by Judith Light) has always been content with babymaking and fur-cleaning. But one night the panda ventures out into the exciting world and finds herself torn between wanting a career and returning to a life behind bars to be the savior of a species. Tag line: "Motherhood. Careerhood. Are they really black and white?"

"Koala Lumpur"

A curmudgeonly marsupial (Heath Ledger) accidentally stows away on a slow boat to Malaysia, where he discovers the joys of multiculturalism and gado gado. (Special treat: Wanda Sykes as Mary, the quick-quipping mosquito.)

"Dyn-O-Mite!"

A disgruntled dust mite (Andy Samberg) dreams of venturing out into Life Beyond the Sofa Cushions, but faces resistance from his aimless slob buddies (Chris Kattan, Chris Elliott and Chris Parnell).

"The Scrodfather II"

Led by Vito Abalone (Chazz Palminteri), a crew of mobbed-up mollusks "makes their bones" off the Jersey Shore and threatens fish who flip that "they'll sleep with the sea gulls." With Cedric the Entertainer as the fast-talking bivalve consigliere.

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