From: Over the Hedge (2006)
Based on the rather excellent newspaper comic strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis, Over the Hedge is a witty and better-than-average CGI talking-animal film in a three-year period that saw dozens of them. RJ, played by Bruce Willis, is, naturally, a schemer, who dupes a group of local critters (led by the cautious turtle Verne) into infiltrating the nearby brand new suburb to gather junk food for an angry bear. RJ is cool, hip, and always in control. He has a whiff of Bugs Bunny about him.
From: The Great Outdoors (1988)
Raccoons love garbage, and many, many people have had the experience of cleaning up tipped over trash cans after these ring-tailed creatures have gone rooting through them. As Howard Deutch’s 1988 comedy indicated, raccoons are smarter about their vandalism than you think. They know the good garbage from the bad garbage, and they scoff at the petty attempts we humans employ stop them. Rocks on the lids? That never works.
From: The Nut Job (2014)
Peter Lepeniotis’ recent squirrel-based animated adventure The Nut Job was panned by critics when it opened back in January, and has already been largely forgotten (at least until the bizarrely inevitable sequel his theaters in 2016). The best part of the movie was, however, a Machiavellian woodland ruler named Raccoon, who forced the other park animals to live in a Communist arrangement (all food distributed equally), all while hoarding shiny objects for himself. Raccoon was voiced by Liam Neeson, who screams “Give me the shiny!” to our hero. He is a fun character surrounded by a shrill film.
From: Pom Poko (1994)
Easily the bawdiest film in the Studio Ghibli canon, one can easily see why Isao Takahata’s tale of raccoon vengeance is perhaps not familiar to American youngsters. According to Japanese lore, raccoons are tricksters and shapeshifters who can occasionally turn into people, but who are usually too preoccupied with randy mating rituals to get anything done. Oh yes, and the male raccoons have the ability to alter the shape and size of their own testicles. You read that correctly. Despite this bizarre detail (and the bizarre visuals that come along with it), Pom Poko is a delightful and energetic movie.
From: Pocahontas (1995)
When Pocahontas was released in 1995, it was considered one of Disney’s attempts at a more serious tone for their animated fare. The story was achingly romantic and overtly tragic, not to mention forthright and preachy about imperial conquest. Which is why a character like the chittering raccoon Meeko is so notable. Meeko was a typical Disney Sidekick™, complete with the usual “cute” moments and cutesy mugging. Meeko’s presence made for an appealing tonal shift.
From: Brother Bear 2 (2006)
Disney, as we have learned over the course of the ‘00s, will make a straight-to-video sequel to any one of their movies. Cinderella, The Lion King, Tarzan, Lady and the Tramp, and even Bambi have been hauled out of mothballs for the DVD market. This trend also included the not-very-popular 2003 non-hit Brother Bear. Brother Bear 2 was about an evil raccoon named Bering (Jim Cummings) who hoarded a shiny magical amulet that had transformed our protagonist into a bear. He also led an army. Raccoons hoard and they lead armies of critters. It’s their métier.
From: Furry Vengeance (2010)
Actually, this raccoon is not properly named throughout the course of the bizarre 2010 family comedy Furry Vengeance (which has nothing to do with the Furry community), but in my mind, I wanted to name this vengeful, bloodthirsty raccoon something epic. Gilgamesh will do. Gilgamesh rallies nearby forest creatures to attack Brendan Fraser after he has encroached on the animals’ woodland home. It’s essentially a kid-friendly version of the ape attacks in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.