This week sees the release of plausible high-concept 3D animation G-Force, which follows a highly trained team of guinea pigs as they attempt to stop a rogue billionaire from taking over the world.
Those rogue billionaires are certainly a handful, but when anthropomorphised animals team up at the movies it might not always be in order to save the world, but hilarious hi-jinks are certainly guaranteed.
Join us then, beast lovers of the platonic kind, as we take a look at the tragedies and triumphs of other movie critter gangs...
The Gang: Bolt (Dog), Mittens (Cat) and Rhino (Hamster).
The Tragedy: Confused TV-star Bolt believes his fictional adventure-filled life is real, and that he has the superpowers his character displays on the show.
When Bolt is accidentally shipped to New York, he enlists the help of streetwise Mittens and TV-obsessed Rhino to get him back to Hollywood and his owner, Penny.
Along the way he discovers that his superpowers may not be so super after all.
The Triumph: Making his way back to the studio, Bolt is dismayed to find that a lookalike dog has replaced him on the show, and that Penny seems to love the new Bolt.
Mittens overhears Penny saying she misses the real Bolt, and armed with the news, he runs to her.
Before he can get there a fire breaks out, and Bolt bravely finds Penny and stays with her until they can be rescued.
What If One Of Them Was An Elephant? Rhino - the cute Hamster, becomes Rhino - the terrifyingly clumsy Elephant, who unwittingly wreaks havoc on New York.
Animal Control are dispatched, and they have no choice but to shoot and kill the hapless Elephant, who’s good-natured bumblings have already killed several pedestrians.
Mittens and Bolt are crushed to death under their slain friend after they desperately try to calm him down, and ended up getting too close.
Next: The Rescuers[page-break]
The Rescuers (1977)
The Gang: Miss Bianca (White Mouse), Bernard (Mouse), Orville (Albatross), Evinrude (Dragonfly)
The Tragedy: Little orphan Penny sends out a cry for help in a bottle. The bottle finds it’s way to the Rescue Aid Society who dispatch Miss Bianca and Bernard to find the girl and ensure her safety.
Orville flies the pair to Louisana, where the Rescuers discover an evil pawn-shop owner may have kidnapped Penny for her own cruel devices, and the pair race to track her down before it’s too late.
The Triumph: Learning that Penny has been taken to squeeze her into a secret cave and retrieve a priceless diamond, Orville speeds them to the cave.
Once inside, they help Penny retrieve the diamond, barely escaping after the cave is flooded.
Working together, the Rescuers trip Madame Medusa and make a daring escape on a motorboat powered by Evinrude. Madame Medusa attempts to follow, but is thwarted by her own pet alligators.
With Penny safe and adopted by loving parents, the rescuers return to New York for their next assignment.
What If One Of Them Was An Elephant? The Rescuers set out for the mission on the back of their transport, Orville the Elephant.
Not the fastest of creatures, Orville takes three months to get to the Bayou, by which time Penny has been sold into child slavery and has tragically died in a ‘loom incident’.
Next: An American Tail[page-break]
An American Tail (1986)
The Gang: Fievel (Jewish-Russian Mouse), Tony (Italian Mouse), Bridget (Irish Mouse), Tiger (Cat)
The Tragedy: The Mouskewitz family are emigrating to America for a promised life of opportunity free from the tyranny of cats.
However, during the boat voyage, a great storm pummels the boat, and Fievel is washed out to sea, feared dead.
Fievel survives riding in a vodka bottle, and is washed up on Ellis Island. Lost and alone, he is encouraged to search for his family by a friendly French pigeon helping build the Statue of Liberty.
The Triumph: Befriended by fellow immigrant mice Tony and Bridget, Fievel (whom they nickname Philly) begins his search, but is hindered by a scheming mouse running a cat-protection racket.
Helping hatch a plot to get rid of the cat, Fievel is captured, only to befriend cowardly feline Tiger, who helps him escape.
Together, the pair help the mouse community drive the cats from New York, and with a little help from his old friends Tony and Bridget, Fievel is reunited with his family.
What If One Of Them Was An Elephant? Tiger is a member of the cat gang Mott-Street Maulers – but is actually an amnesiac elephant who just thinks he’s a cat.
Indulged by the rest of the gang as they believe his size will only help intimidate their victims, Tiger is sent along to enforce the racketeering scam.
As soon as he spots a mouse, however, Tiger’s elephant instincts take over and he stampedes, trampling hundreds of immigrant mice to death.
Next: The Land Before Time[page-break]
The Land Before Time (1988)
The Gang: Littlefoot (Apatosaurus), Cera (Triceratops), Ducky, (Parasaurolophus), Petrie (Pteranodon) and Spike (Stegosaurus)
The Tragedy: When Littlefoot’s mother is killed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Littlefoot flees his famined homeland and sets off to find “The Great Valley”, a rich, lush area which has been spared devastation.
On his travels he befriends Cera, Ducky and Petrie, and the mismatched gang form a rocky partnership to quest for the valley together.
During their journey they find the abandoned Spike, and must overcome constant peril including a series of battles against the “Sharptooth” that killed Littlefoot’s mother.
The Triumph: The group bicker constantly and Cera decides to leave and go her own way, as Littlefoot devises a plan to defeat the Sharptooth once and for all.
Ducky lures the Sharptooth to the edge of the water, with the others intending to drop a rock and drown him, but Littlefoot, Spike and Ducky can’t move the rock, leaving Ducky in mortal danger.
Petrie finally discovers how to fly, and recues Ducky. Cera arrives at the last minute, and with her help they move the rock and the plan works, banishing the Sharptooth to the watery depths.
Learning to work as a team despite their differences, the gang arrive at the Great Valley, and are reunited with their families - with Ducky’s family adopting orphan Spike.
What If One Of Them Was An Elephant? Even for a film that takes artistic liberty with its dinosaur species, including an Elephant would be a terrifically anachronistic manoeuvre.
Explained away as a bald mutant mammoth, Spike is mocked for his general appearance and his ridiculous lack of hair.
Next: The Lion King[page-break]
The Lion King (1994)
The Gang: Simba, heir to the throne of the animal kingdom and his two wacky pals, Pumba the warthog and Timon the meerkat.
The Tragedy: Simba blames himself for his father’s death during a wildebeest stampede, which was in fact caused by his uncle, Scar.
Scar convinces the young cub he has disgraced his father and his family, and that he must exile himself from the Pride Lands.
The Triumph: Found and raised by non-homosexual life-partners Timon and Pumba under their Hakuna Matata philosophy, Simba grows into a strong, wise Lion.
When Nala, a lioness he knew as a cub, finds him and tells him that Scar has led the Pride Lands into ruin, Simba and the gang journey back to confront Scar and return his birthright.
What If One Of Them Was An Elephant? Then the title of the film would be wildly inaccurate.
Renamed Dumbo in Africa, the film is only a modest straight-to-VHS success.
The original songs ‘Peanut of Life’ and ‘Can You Feel The Trunk Tonight?’ are among the more embarrassing duds in Sir Elton John’s career.
Next: Homeward Bound[page-break]
Homeward Bound (1993)
The Gang: Shadow (Golden Retriever), Sassy (Himalayan cat) and Chance (American Bulldog).
The Tragedy: When their owners marry, Shadow, Chance and Sassy become a new family, along with the kids of their respective owners.
When the family move to San Francisco for a year, they leave the animals at friend’s ranch in Oregon, but Shadow is worried about the youngest boy, Peter, and leads a break out to go find him.
The Triumph: Covering a thousand miles over mountains and dangerous terrain, the trio make steady progress in the face of extreme odds.
Encountering hazards such as mountain lions, waterfalls, a train yard and a dog pound, the domesticated denizens finally make it to San Francisco… cue an ‘awww’...
What If One Of Them Was An Elephant? We’re not sure how legal it is to keep an elephant as a pet, but the presence of one here would probably make the journey seem less incredible.
The plot would consist of two dogs riding an elephant over a mountain range like Hannibal, and would involve little in the way of peril, as the vast mammal would scare off most trouble.
At the end someone would be arrested for owning the elephant in the first place. Probably the little kid.
The Gang: Alex (Lion), Marty (Zebra), Melman (Giraffe), Gloria (Hippo)
The Tragedy: When the four friends escape the New York Zoo, they're captured in Grand Central station and shipped off to a wildlife reserve in Kenya.
On the way, their transport ship is disrupted by a group of mischievious penguins intent on taking the boat to Antarctica. The four are swept overboard in their crates, and wash up on the island of Madagascar.
The Triumph: In the unfamiliar territory of the wild, the gang are faced with a crisis of survival, unsure of how to cope without the luxury of the New York Zoo.
Alex’s primal instincts develop and he tries to eat Marty, and is banished to the far side of the island.
Fighting against the laws of nature, the gang make him see the error of his ways, and are reunited, and set out to escape the island.
What If One Of Them Was An Elephant? Well, one of them was a hippo, which is pretty much an elephant.
Suggestions, please! How would the presence of an elephant improve Madagascar?
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