Public Service Announcement: Hollywood and Squirrels


Are the squirrels in your neighborhood a threat?

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 1:58 p.m.

Over the Hedge.

Hoodwinked.

Ice Age.

Three movies, important in their own right, for each demonstrate Hollywood’s seemingly infinite capacity for alternate reality. How could three such harmless family films contain any traces of diabolical distortion? Malicious misrepresentation? Pernicious parody? Just look at the squirrels.

For some reason that has escaped public notice, the directors of these films chose to cast their respective squirrels as relatively innocuous yet as hyperactive as, well, a squirrel.

Voiced by Steve Carell, the star of NBC’s The Office, Hammy the squirrel acts as RJ the raccoon’s lieutenant in regards to all things mischievous and related to cheese whiz in DreamWorks’ Over the Hedge. Presented as scatterbrained at best, and maniacally twisted at worst, Hammy romps through the suburban jungle in search of the basic ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of dustbins to rummage through.

“Twitchy” is director Cory Edwards’ idea of the squirrel in his natural habitat: photojournalism. Spending much of Hoodwinked bouncing off the movie frame while his partner futilely tries to get him to drink decaf.

Both Twitchy and Hammy share similarities in appearance and nature. While Twitchy may have eyes roughly the size of ping-pong balls, he and Hammy share the same type of scene where someone gives Twitchy regular coffee, or an energy drink is given to Hammy, and everything goes downhill from there.

Ice Age is barely worth mentioning, seeing as “Scrat” is merely a combination between a squirrel and a rat upon which fate rarely smiles. In the movie he is subsequently struck by lightning, nearly crushed by a massive glacier, and then frozen in ice for 20,000 years.

However, as far as accuracy goes, none of these squirrels are as evil, as malevolent, or as indifferent as the squirrels at UF. On our campus, the squirrels are everywhere. They go anywhere that suits their whimsy, often ignoring humans. The only one to correctly recognize the true nature of these Machiavellian fiends was Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side. A discussion between two squirrels in Central Park, for instance:

“Whad iz dis? I gives you two nuts yestuhday and you sez you gonna pay me back today! You want I should break you incisors or what?”

“Hey! I get da nuts! I get da nuts! I just need a liddle time, squeezle!”

Consider yourself warned.

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