Disney started it: the practice of adding in a cute sidekick character to their animated stories so that young children would have someone to amuse them when the movie’s grown-up characters were advancing the plot. It’s characters like Thumper from Bambi and Mushu from Mulan that provide most of the funny and/or cute moments in an animated film – which is why we love them! Disney et all must be getting better with age, because my top five animated sidekicks are all from recent movies.
Movie(s) appeared in: Ice Age and sequels
Scrat makes the Ice Age movies worth watching. He’s a sort of prehistoric squirrel rat (hence the name). He’s not a sidekick in the sense that he follows the main characters around, but he’s usually there in the background somewhere on his endless quest to grab and eat that acorn. He never talks, only screams, as endless frustrations and accidents crop up that keep him from his nut. Scrat proved so popular in the first Ice Age movie that he’s gotten several animated shorts all to himself.
Movie(s) appeared in: Tangled
Tangled was a fun movie all on its own, but it was Maximus that made me love it. He’s a palace horse who loses his rider early in the movie but continues doggedly searching for the thief his rider was after. He’s very dog-like in some of his mannerisms (he’ll sit, sniff the ground, etc.) but horse-like in others (his proud stance, his love for apples, etc.) He can’t talk but he’s easily smarter than any of the human guards, so they tend to follow his lead… right to the good guys! He’s not a villain, but he sure is a pain in the butt for the main characters.
#3. PUSS IN BOOTS
Movie(s) appeared in: Shrek 2 and onward
I didn’t like the first Shrek all that much, but I liked the sequels because of Puss in Boots! Puss is a swashbucking kitty swordsman with a secret weapon: his incredible cuteness. This makes him a valuable ally to Shrek and his crew. Usually the cutest characters are the ones who can’t talk, but Puss’ adorable Spanish accent (he’s voiced by Antonio Banderas) just makes him even more adorable. He’s at his cutest in Shrek Forever After when he’s fat and spoiled.
Movie(s) appeared in: Wall-E
Like all of the robots in Wall-E, Mo is only capable of speaking a few electronic sounding words, but those few words are more than enough to get across his meaning. Mo (short for Microbe Obliterator) is a cleaning robot whose whole life is devoted to sanitizing the ship, so when filthy old Wall-E tracks in more dirt than he’s ever seen in his life, Mo suddenly has a bane of his existence. Mo follows Wall-E all over the ship cleaning up his messes, and ends up accidentally saving the world. Not bad for a tiny monosyllabic robot with obsessive compulsive disorder.
Movie(s) appeared in: Up
Most of us had a vague idea of what our dogs would sound like if they could talk before we saw Up, and Dug is it. Dug is a dog with a special electronic collar that allows him to talk – not like humans and other animated dog characters though, but in stream-of-consciousness dog-brain talk. He’s the low man on the bad-guy totem pole, so he becomes the new best friend of the main characters. After all, how could they not fall in love with him when he says things like: “I have just met you, and I love you,” and “squirrel!”