These are the Daniel Day Lewis-es of the animal kingdom.
Actors and animals have been sharing the silver screen for ages, but it’s not often that the performances are strong from both parties. That’s why we’re shining the light on some of the best examples of animals out-acting their human counterparts. This list will make you think twice next time you plan to co-star alongside a monkey. Because if there’s anything monkeys are better at than throwing their own feces, it’s finding their motivation.
THE HANGOVER II (2011)
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
We still love The Hangover, but everyone knows that The Hangover II is a steaming pile of re-hashed monkey crap. Speaking of monkeys, the capuchin monkey in The Hangover II is just about the only thing worth watching in the film. Played by Crystal the Monkey (Community, Night at the Museum, We Bought a Zoo), this chain-smoking, drug-dealing monkey steals the show while being stolen from Russian mob and, eventually, taking a bullet. For The Hangover III we’re hoping for a lot less Tyson and a lot more Crystal.
The poster for 1994’s Andre might just be the greatest poster of all time. A baby seal, chilling on a dock, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, yellow hat, and sunglasses? And the coy little guy is sticking out his tongue. Awww. The problem is, Andre’s a troublemaker and the fisherman don’t want to deal with his hijinks anymore. Good thing he has a nine-year-old girl as a best buddy to keep him safe! Think of Andre as Bachelor Party with a seal… and without all the nakedness, hilarity, cocaine, and overdosing donkey.
Police dog Jerry Lee sure had a nose for sniffing out drugs. Too bad he’s both lazy and mischievous. Otherwise, the German Shepherd might have been able to actually help James Belushi catch the international drug dealer named Lyman instead of just lazing around licking himself and getting into doggy trouble all day. (In the above clip, he has wild dog sex.) Can you believe this dog actually got Belushi to reprise his role as Detective Michael Dooley in two direct-to-video sequels (K-911 and K-9: P.I.)? We can.
MVP: MOST VALUABLE PRIMATE (2000)
There are a surprising number of films that fall in the middle of the Sport Movies and Monkey Movies Venn diagram. This is the “hockey” one, and it’s higher on the list than the next Monkey Sports movie because of the song above which was inspired by the movie, or, perhaps, inspired by God. And to those who are about to write us angry letters starting with, “Chimps are not monkeys,” please know that we really, really, really, really care about proper animal nomenclature. Really.
Psst. We’re 77% sure that the “monkey” in this movie is actually a guy in a costume. But we don’t want to ruin the illusion of cinema. We’re 93% sure that Matt LeBlanc is a horrible actor in this monkey baseball movie, but he might be reading this and we don’t want to hurt his feelings. Hi Matt!
AS GOOD AS IT GETS (1997)
Obsessive-compulsive novelist Melvin Udall’s (Jack Nicholson) life is turned upside down when he has to care for his hospitalized neighbor’s dog Verdell. When the dog starts imitating Nicholson’s compulsive behavior (seen in the above clip)...well, it’s the most adorable Nicholson impersonation since our six-year-old nephew did a spot-on version of Nicholson’s opening dialogue from The Departed.
FREE WILLY (1993)
Despite the film’s climactic moment being the brunt of plenty movie-spoof jokes over the years,
turned Keiko the Orca (who plays Willy himself) into a certified star. There aren’t a lot of whales that could out-act Michael Madsen and Michael Ironside, but Keiko holds it down. The movie’s clever title became a fun euphemism that even kids could use. (See our list of
) Kudos, Willy. Kudos. By the way, the trailer posted above gives away the entire movie, plot point by plot point. Fuckers.
PROJECT X (1987)
So a wild party spins out of control while a group of teens capture the footage and...Oh, wait, this isn’t that movie? This is the other movie named Project X. The one where Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt play alongside a chimpanzee named Virgil who’s trying to learn sign language before he’s stolen away to an Air Force base for a top-secret research project. The trailer makes it look like a fun Ferris Bueller-worthy comedy. In reality, this is one of the saddest animal movies of them all. Project X was intended to make some huge political statement about the ethics of animal research, but the producers actually ended up being accused (by Bob Barker of all people) of animal cruelty. Oops.
EVAN ALMIGHTY (2007)
The 2007 stand-alone sequel to Jim Carrey’s 2003 comedy Bruce Almighty (which was just barely funny) somehow became the most expensive film comedy ever. Too bad it’s also terrible. Even the great Steve Carell couldn’t save this sinking ship (pun!) of a film which tells a re-imagined version of Noah’s Ark. The good news is there’s a ton of awesome animals in the flick (304 species to be exact), some of which are CGI creations. That said, all 304 animals upstage actors like Carell, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, and Lauren Graham by just showing up and not pooping on the camera lens. (The same can’t be said of John Goodman.)
OPERATION DUMBO DROP (1995)
It’s unclear how anyone thought 1995’s Operation Dumbo Drop could possibly appeal to kids. There are some funny antics throughout with the always-wonderful elephant Bo-Tat, but it’s just a confusing film that has no idea what it really wants to be. Is it a war movie? A comedy? Screw it. We’re here for the elephant and that elephant is awesome. Bo-Tat (played by an Asian elephant named Tai) is funny and adorable and tons (literally) of fun, but it’s not enough to save the tired, convoluted plot. Still, for the ODD enthusiasts out there, you can watch and re-watch the entire movie on YouTube. Thanks, technology.