It’s Cliff Clavin’s birthday! The Cheers alumnus is 65 years young today, and has appeared in every Pixar film to date, so let’s celebrate his greatest roles for the greatest animation company in history.
Essentially a cameo, Ratzenberger shows up only in the film’s final moments to kick off the plot of the tie-in videogame, but his nasally drone lends the villain a sense of inferior uprising. “I’m always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me!”
After being outcast into the frozen wilderness, Mike and Sully run into this fluffiest of creations (“Abonimable. Can you believe that? Do I look abominable to you? Why can’t they call me the Adorable Snowman?”) who, after having been banished to the Himalayas for sometime alone, has understandably gone a little nutty.
Why voice one character, when you can voice hundreds, that all look the same? Ratzenberger here voices an entire school of fish (or rather, their designated spokesfish) encounted by Marlin and Dory on their hunt for Marlin’s son, Nemo. His whiny tone is just perfect, especially when it comes to mocking Albert Brooks’ Marlin: “Blah-blah-blah, me-me-blah! Blah-blah, blah-blah, me-me-me!”
2. P.T. Flea (A Bug’s Life)
The first time Ratzenberg was asked back to the studio (none of the other actors for Toy Story show up here, need I say more?) he was semi-sidelined into a supporting character, but still one of the most memorable as the circus bugs’ ruthlessly opportunistic diminutive ringmaster, who’ll even set himself alight six nights a week if there’s money in it.
It’s getting to be a bit predictable, isn’t it? If Toy Story (or Jurassic Park) can justifiably be on the list, they’re going to be at the top. Who knows what’ll happen when I do the Top 5… Movie Dinosaurs, can Rex defeat the raptors? Anyway, Ratzenberg’s Hamm is my favourite of his characters in all the Pixar films, because not only is his know-it-all piggy bank the closest he’s been to Cliff Clavin since reprising the role for an episode of Frasier, but he’s also the closest to me, as my girlfriend pointed out during Toy Story 3, when he spouts off about the specific variety of plastic used to make bin liners (“triple-ply, high density polyethylene”), and he has some of the funnier lines in all three films.
Mustafa (Ratatouille)/ Construction Foreman Tom (Up)
Now, these are two of my favourite Pixar films (a list which includes all of them apart from the Cars pictures) but my problem with the roles is they’re too damn small, with Ratzenberg cropping up as a barely remembered and unforgivably underused cameo. I’ve no idea how they’re going to cram his distinctly non Celtic tones into the specifically Scottish Brave, but it better be at least as a supporting role.