Rat (SE)/ C+, B
Universal/2000/91/ANA 1.85

     Sustaining humor in a one joke movie is tougher than attracting rats to a trap with no bait. Rat runs the comic maze as an Irish bakery delivery man comes home one evening from the pub and shrinks right out of his clothes and morphs into a rat. That's right, a rat. No, not a talking rat, but a rather attentive rat with pretty good focus at the breakfast table and a natural affinity for a pint of stout. 

A preposterous morning lecture. ŠUniversal

    The ins-and-outs of Rat are centered around the central joke. When word is broadcast over a local radio station that Hubert Flynn has suddenly turned into a rat, a local free-lance journalist spots an opportunity to make a buck and weasels his way into the Flynn household. Between the bait of a book publishing, the Flynn family deals with a multitude of issues salient to having a rat as head of the family. How's a daughter gonna bring her boyfriend home to meet the folks or a son with priestly aspirations resolve his father with issues of the bible. 
    Despite the mad conceit, the film is seldom funny enough. My whiskers picked up a bit when Conchita Flynn does a wee bit of clean-up on a ragged Hubert's ruffled white hair and there's a chase through Dublin's streets that gets under your skin. 
    The actors hold their through line admirably, never running complicit with the joke. Imelda Staunton is quite a funny lady. Her Conchita scurries about with no certain purpose or resolve lost in a maze of indecision. Pete Postlethwaite gets short screen time as Hubert, but the rest of the cast try hard to mine the bizarre situation with straight faces. 
    There are several songs on the soundtrack that joyfully comment on the action. Between Secret Love and Hucklebuck, some good additional laughs are produced. Cinematography goes boldly where no other rat has traveled.  Rat is the kind of movie I really want to like. Outrageous humor often catches me by the tale (sic), but the single minded nature of Rat's humor dries out far too fast. 
     The DVD is good enough to present the film with no barriers to pleasure. It could have been a bit sharper. Skin tones at times appear somewhat pasty. Some of the strange point of view shot filmed with unusual looking stock appear true to their origins. Black levels are good, shadow detail fine. The Dolby Digital 5:1 Surround is rock solid with reasonable surround activity. Dialogue is delivered cleanly, though you might lose a smattering of humor through accents.
     No on the fly switching to audio commentary. Along with an audio commentary from director Steve Barron and star Imelda Staunton, there's a cut featurette detailing aspects of production with a rye style. All those cameras just to capture a rat's point of view, amazing technology I'd say. 



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