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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Five Best: Animal Movies

[caption id="attachment_724" align="alignright" width="221" caption="Our dog Phoebe when she was a puppy"][/caption]

My wife suggested I make this list of five best, after reading an AP reporter make her list of the five best animal movies. Unfortunately, said reporter really only made a list of best pet movies. So, I give you the five best animal movies, in chronological order. As you can tell, these aren't necessarily domesticated animals.

NOTE: I decided not to include animated films, because it seems every animated film ever made has some animal that talks. These animals can't talk. Because animals can't really talk. No seriously. This is also why I didn't include Dr. Doolittle... or even Babe, which may actually deserve to be included.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="244" caption="Image from "King Kong" courtesy of"][/caption]

King Kong (1933)

To this day, it still remains the best of the versions. Think about it - it says more about animal rights than most films you can think of. What gives us the right to capture an animal, bring it to the states, and put it on display in front of an audience in shackles? I don't blame Kong for going berserk. The 1976 remake did a relatively okay job retelling the story. Peter Jackson's 2003 version was about an hour too long and a tad mis-cast. But, for my money, the original is still the gold standard of giant gorilla movies.

[caption id="attachment_725" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Scene from "Old Yeller" courtesy of"][/caption]

Old Yeller (1957)

A boy finds a stray dog on the farm and decides to adopt him. You know from the start exactly what will eventually happen. Most people feel it's the only film that it's "okay" for men to cry at (I disagree); Old Yeller brings even the least emotional people to their knees. Every film since about a pet's life owes a debt of gratitude to the heartbreaking story of love, loss, and the best pet you could ever have.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="246" caption="Scene from "Jaws" courtesy of"][/caption]

Jaws (1975)

The film that gave birth to the summer blockbuster, Stephen Spielberg's first true masterpiece made everyone afraid to go into the water. We never see the shark until past the halfway point in the movie (apparently unintended, because the shark wouldn't work), so the tension builds every second. With wily performances from Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws draws you in so you know, the next time you watch, you're gonna need a bigger boat.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="219" caption="Scene from "The Adventures of Milo and Otis" courtesy of"][/caption]

The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1989)

Originally premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986, Milo and Otis didn't get released in the U.S. until 1989. A welcome blessing in the midst of the talking animal craze, we get to watch a lost kitten and pug trek across mountains, fields, and other terrain, with only a narration track, provided by Dudley Moore (in the American version). As simple as a movie can get, it's a wonderful escape to watch with your children.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="284" caption="Scene from "Jurassic Park" courtesy of"][/caption]

Jurassic Park (1993)

Exciting, funny, frightening, and intelligent, Stephen Spielberg's translation to screen of the Michael Crichton best seller is a screen gem. Starring Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park brought dinosaurs back to life in the most realistic way ever on screen. And yes, dinosaurs are animals. And scary ones, at that.

So, argue with me all you want, but those are the five best animal movies. No, they aren't about your pets. Well, a couple maybe.

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