Isaacs Picture Conclusions

RAT (2000) FOUR TOP HATS

I think I owe it to The Good and Horror Loving Reader to come right out and say that this is a comedy and I understand if you move along. I doubt I’ll ever put another comedy out here but I have been trying to find this again for so long and it finally popped up for streaming only on lovely Netflix so I watched it before it disappeared – and I loved it again! Now – I guess if you’ve made it through the first two sentences and are still curious – I should address this: this is “my” type of humor – dry – sarcastic – ironic – smart – wry – etc. This is in no way Will Ferrell or Danny McBride or over the top boner and eating shit humor  that is so prevalent these days. This isn’t trying to force you to laugh, this makes me laugh because of the situations these people are in and the way they address things. It took me a minute to get here but this is it: I like my humor “subtle”. For example, in this they are trying to determine if a particular rat is their dad, so Uncle Matt explains, “It’s quite easy to determine the genus of the rat, simply look at their sphincter. (examines) Oh yes, this is definitely Hubert.” Or when Hubert (the rat) may or may not have contracted the “Bubonicals” his wife tosses him into the washing machine for a bath. “Do you think that will be detrimental to Hubert’s health?” Uncle Matt asks watching the obviously fake rat flop around. “No, I’ve got it on wools,” Conchita smiles. Sooooooo, if you’re still interested, here come my thoughts on RAT : )

Pete Postlethwaite (R.I.P.) is a tired, poor, bread delivery man named Hubert who likes to get off work and have six or seven pints of Guiness before he goes home to his nagging wife Conchita (Imelda Staunton), his lovely daughter Marietta (Kerry Condon) and his weird, entering-the-clergy son Pius (Andrew Lovern). As he gets home this first night of our visit into the lives of the Flynns, Conchita gives him a good berating for being late and being loaded and betting on horses and what not and the next morning we learn, over a radio broadcast, that Hubert has turned into a rat. Sweep around the breakfast table and there he is, sitting in a chair, eyeballing his breakfast – and getting another talking to about “how he isn’t eating his breakfast and this is what he does every day and rat or not this is how he treats his family and why do I spend all of my time slaving over food when he doesn’t eat it and this is the thanks I get and” then the doorbell rings and it’s a “journalist” (with dubious intentions) on the front porch ready to move in with the family and write a book about this whole story. By the way, this is an Irish movie and the dialects are THICK (and I love it) so words like book come out like bOOk and film sounds like fillem – and they say these words a lot and it was hilarious.

Despite the fact that they’ve spared no expense and bought the best cage in town for their dad / rat opinions are divided on what to do next. The hilariously awesome, dictionary-reading-for-pleasure Uncle Matt (Frank Kelly) comes over and gives them their options, one of which is that if they go about their business as normal then they will need to be concerned with the life cycle of the rat because Hubert is 53 so “that’s one very old rat” and: “There’s nothin’ worse than a drowned rat in the toilet, whether it’s a close relation or not.” The son wants to kill the rat because he doesn’t think he can get accepted into the clergy if his dad is a rodent, the daughter (pictured) says that “rat or no rat this is our DAD!!” and they need to care for him, “Droppings on the doilies or not!!” and the mom opts to wait it out for the bOOK and fillem and make their riches. I have to say that this scene, the ‘family meeting’ scene is completely great with not one but FOUR super close-up creative “long sweeps” of the camera – LOVED IT.

Eventually the decision is made that, to keep up his health, Hubert needs to go visit his normal haunts so they put the cage in the baby carriage and tote him about town while the citizenry look and point, mouths agape. Another thing that I think is funny about this is that no one seems to think this is odd. Everyone just goes about their business and, you know, takes it easy. The guys at the horse track betting joint say things like “I knew it was Hubert the moment I laid eyes on him.” and “Well Hubert, how ya goin about your business these days? I suppose you can’t drive your bread truck now.” At the pub, the bartender admires his “healthy coat” and offers him a glass of beer out of the hands of one of the other patrons, they let the rat out, he drinks half of it until Conchita says he’s had too much, grabs him out of the pint and wrings him off (into the glass). That done, the bartender hands the half empty draft back to the other guy who goes ahead and takes a sip (in the background). That’s an LOL to me.

While they’re not paying attention, the drunk rat gets loose and we have a four or five minute, pretty funny chase scene through the city until he’s finally recaptured. This has been too much for the poor family and they decide it’s time for him to go be with other rats so they bundle him up and drive him out to the Maggot Factory and toss him over the fence. Well, eventually he makes his way back and there’s a very funny scene involving and exorcism but the end kind of plods on. If I had tried to do this by memory, I would have given this a FIVE but the end actually kind of fizzles out, but the first 1:15 minutes were totally worth a watch and a re-watch and everything else.

I should also go on record and admit that, even though I dog McBride as often as I can I actually, for some reason, like Your Highness. There I said it.

15 comments

    • theipc

      Totally Kafkaesque! And nope – they really don’t offer much of an explanation other than a voice over at the beginning with Postlethwaite saying something like “my grandfather came from the hills and I grew up listening to stories of men who turned into goats and dogs…” this was very funny ~

      Like

    • theipc

      Hey! I bet you would like this 🙂 Thanks for the comment! (oh and I used to read the dictionary all the time…. maybe even not when I was a kid WHAT??)

      Like

  1. Pickett Reardon

    Time for a Postlethwaite film festival I think – will have to give Rat a try – your output is truly inspiring – well done man!

    Like

    • theipc

      Thank you, Reardon! I know you and I think you would totally get this (and LOL at it). Let me know if you ever want to Postlethwaite it up “double take” style. Thanks for the positive feedback! Too bad we couldn’t hang out at The Derby last week…

      Like

  2. goregirl

    Damn this sounds GREAT! Never heard of it…I am putting this in the queue right now. I think Pete Postlethwaite is the cat’s ass. Great cover too.

    Like

  3. Pingback: The Potter Perceptions: Order of the Phoenix (2007) | The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger

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