Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lessons from the Ice Age Squirrel (Scrat) and his Quest for the Acorn

I am not sure how many of you are familiar with Pixar's Ice Age movies. Each movie has a plot line, but through out them it keeps jumping over to this funny looking little ice age version of a squirrel named Scrat. These parts of the movie, while containing no dialog other than little noises that come from Scrat, tend to get the most smiles and laughs. Personally, I remember these parts more than the rest of the movie? Why? Because Scrat is so lovable and his plight (get the acorn) is so accessible. Despite the fact that it's not complex and the general plot doesn't change over the whole series of movies, there is tension (will he get his acorn) and stakes (without the acornScrat could starve). He doesn't talk, but we empathize with Scrat (he's tenacious, he's cute, he is little and the world is big). Even though he has his down sides (can't talk, a bit too narrow minded, very klutzy) we love him. Actually, in many ways it may be because he has these down falls that the audience roots for him to get his acorn--and it's funny to watch him fall.

Even though it is the same motive over and over and over and over the writers continue to throw new road block's to Scrat's goals. The newest Ice Age movie's trailer shows us Scrat learning about a new problem. Female Squirrels.

Poor Scrat.

Why do you think that Scrat is such a successful character? Why do you think that after all these movies and despite the simple plot, people still laugh when Scrat falls or looses his acorn? And why do we feel a little bit of joy when the cartoon charector finally gets his acron (even though we know he's gonna loose it in a second)?

10 tidbits:

stu said...

For much the same reason that Shakespeare stuck in comedy doorkeepers. It's a nice, undemanding break from the real plot. Also, pratfalls are funny.

Beth said...

I think we all see a bit of the little guy/the underdog in ourselves.
And it helps to have a sense of humour about ourselves as well!

Lauren said...

@stu- that's a great point about Shakespeare. Comedy can always add a little extra ping that will really sink in the readers (or in his case, viewers).

@beth- I think you are right how everyone sees a bit of the underdog in themselves. Doesn't matter how much they are not an underdog, people tend to relate to the struggle of the little guy on the bottom.

Charles Gramlich said...

Female squirrels? uh oh, Scrats screwed now. He'll never get more than half his acorn.

Travis Erwin said...

Scrat never fails to make my boys roll in the floor. i think he is successful because he works hard and we all hope to see him get his reward though we know it won't be easy.

I think we all feel like Scrat at times.

Lauren said...

@charles- Yes, Scrat is very screwed...especially since, according to the trailer, the Female Squirrel knows how to work it :-P. It will be interesting to see what they do with that whole story line.

@travis- I agree that Scrat working hard is a big part of why we root for him. If he wasn't working hard, it would just be boring. :)

Anonymous said...

"he's tenacious, he's cute, he is little and the world is big" You know, I've often been described the same way :)

I love Scrat too and I think you pretty much described why he is so love able. He tries so hard to get that acorn, but never quite gets it. Poor guy.

Kat Mortensen said...

I love the Scrat character (own both movies) and am looking forward to the next one. I think we all identify with Scrat's quest for the unattainable. So many of us do attain that "acorn" only to lose it again through our own ineptitude or bad decisions. Besides, he's such a comedian.


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