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INTRODUCING: THE CGI ANIMAL HALL OF FAME

 

Director Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book arrives in theaters today amidst a stampede of critical praise and high box-office hopes. But I’ll be going to the nearest multiplex to see it for just one reason: CGI animals. As someone who is nervous around house pets and once had an asthma attack at the circus, CGI animals are a big deal for me. Mostly, they’re safe. Nothing will be more relaxing than purchasing a small popcorn and watching a bunch of PETA-approved, Christopher Walken-voiced animals cavort in the jungle.

But these beautiful creatures consisting of nothing but 1’s and 0’s also join a rich lineage of weird, creepy, and breathtaking CGI animals, and to mark the occasion, I’ve decided to establish the CGI Animal Hall of Fame. Like the weird monkeys in Jumanji, the virtual showcase of virtual critters isn’t a real thing you can touch. But it won’t inflame anyone’s allergies. So grab a CGI vine and take a swing through the inaugural class of computer-generated creatures I’ve inducted and bestowed special awards upon below.

Oh, one quick note before we begin: I’m not talking about the animated creatures you find in A Bug’s Life or Zootopia. To qualify for the CGI Animal Hall of Fame, the CGI animal must share the screen with a human co-star. Apologies to the owls of Ga’Hoole.

Most Likely to Destroy Your Subaru: The deer from The Ring Two

Back in 2010 the Milwaukee Bucks began to use the phrase “fear the deer” as a sort of rallying cry for their scrappy basketball team. But they could’ve been talking about these creepy CGI bad boys from a memorably silly sequence in this forgettable horror sequel. Now, apparently, watching the great Naomi Watts and a little kid get terrorized by a wild pack of ornery beasts is something to crack jokes about, because a lot of people online have done that. But that’s bullshit. I have nothing but love for these fearless deer. They are beautiful and wild. And, unlike real deer, they’ll never pee on your lawn.

Most Likely to Lead a Political Revolution: Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Not feeling the Bern? Over the Hill? Dumping the Trump? Well, I’ve got a different candidate for you: this famous CGI ape. Yeah, that’s right: Caesar. Thanks to the incredible motion-capture work of Andy Serkis, the Leonardo da Vinci of acting while wearing little ping-pong balls, this is a performance (and a cause) that you can believe in.

Most Likely to Say, “You’re the Man Now Dog”: Draco from Dragonheart

You’ve heard of Game of Thrones‘ mother of dragons. Well, this is the father of dragons, and there’s no animated creature I’d rather see crack jokes in the voice of Sean Connery alongside Dennis Quaid in a mullet. Amazingly, the mullet was not CGI.

Most Likely to Blow Your 18-Year-Old Mind: The fox from Antichrist

Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is the perfect introductory art-house movie for college freshmen: it’s violent, it’s vaguely philosophical, and it contains many graphic Willem Dafoe sex scenes. But, most importantly, a fox shows up and says, “Chaos reigns” — a moment that will either make you laugh or give you a panic attack that ends with you eating a whole box of Thin Mints and calling your parents to tell them how much you love them. Listen to the fox. Call your parents. Don’t do drugs. Chaos reigns.

Best Generator of Funny Bill Murray Quotes: Garfield in Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties

I don’t really have any interest in watching this bizarre kids sequel about the lasagna-craving comic-strip cat. But since the movie did lead to this GQ interview where Bill Murray said he thought Joel Coen from the Coen brothers had written the thing, Garfield gets a spot in the Hall of Fame. Those are the rules. I don’t make them up.

Most Chill: The brontosaurus from Jurassic Park

I don’t know if I’d be allergic to dinosaurs. But I’m betting there’s a good chance they’d give me a rash or make me sneeze — and that’s assuming they don’t just attack me on the toilet. So, I’ll always have a soft spot for these peaceful, totally CGI-based beauties from Steven Spielberg’s theme-park classic. They just wanna eat leaves and impress Jeff Goldblum. Let them live.

Most Fun to Party With: The monkeys fromJumanji

Apologies to the wolves from The Day After Tomorrow, who are known for making a mean mojito, but my bet is these guys know how to have the most fun. Who needs a real monkey when you’ve got these lovable goons?

 

Best Dancer: The “Rice, Rice Baby” bear

This is what all CGI animals have been building towards ever since a team of Soviet mathematicians gave birth to Kitty, one of the first-ever computer-animated critters, back in 1968. Who knew that one day we’d be able to watch a bear dance, sing a misconceived hip-hop parody song, and serve a rice-based treat to an unsuspecting office drone? And, who knew that one day there would be a CGI Animal Hall of Fame for that bear to wiggle his little digital ass in for eternity? Not me, my friend — not me.

 

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