At one point in history it seemed that the mouse ruled the animated world. The king of all animated cartoon characters is, of course, Mickey Mouse. Other classic mouse characters include Jerry (of "Tom and" fame), Mighty Mouse, Speedy Gonzalez, Pikachu, Danger Mouse, Stuart Little, Pinky and the Brain, Hanna-Barbera's Mush Mouse and Motormouse, and Itchy from The Simpsons.
Mice were animated in memorable shorts such as the Warner Brothers "The Honeymousers" cartoon, and in full-length animated films like The Rescuers, An American Tale, The Great Mouse Detective and Dumbo.
But today, for my money, the best animated characters going are squirrels.
Yes, I said squirrels. Consider:
Twitchy the squirrel in Hoodwinked (my favorite animated film since The Incredibles, which had no squirrels) had the biggest laughs in that film. Same goes for the squirrel called Scrat in the recent Ice Age 2.
Did anyone bother to see The Wild? Aside from the fact that Disney managed to shamelessly rip off Dreamworks' Madagascar, the only good thing I can say about that utter waste of 90 minutes is this: the movie had a squirrel named Benny (voiced by Jim Belushi) and he was funny. I think I smiled once during that movie, and that was at something Benny said.
Steve Carell is providing the voice of Hammy the Squirrel for the newly released Dreamworks Animation feature Over the Hedge. Again, I thought the squirrel had the best moments, even though I did not like the film.
Squirrels are doing well in cartoons these days. The late Rocky (of "and Bullwinkle" fame) would be proud.