I’m hearing some great things about the special effects tiger in the film version of “Life of Pi.” This has me intrigued. Tigers just may be the most beautiful creatures on the planet, and if this pixelated critter is as wondrous as advertised, he’ll join an illustrious roster of pop culture tigers.
I’m going with my favorite tiger first. Yes, he’s the villain from “Jungle Book,” but he’s undeniably great. He’s droll, he’s cunning, he’s merciless. He also has the voice, heavy-lidded eyes and lantern jaw of the urbane British actor, George Sanders.
TONY THE TIGER
On the other end of the spectrum, you have Frosted Flakes icon Tony the Tiger. He’s no villain – he’s more like that gregarious uncle who let you stay up past your bedtime and showed you wrestling moves like the Backbreaker and the Spinning Toe Hold. He’s not PC, but he’s ggggrrreat!
Can’t say this is one of my favorite teams, since I’m a National League guy. But still, props to a Major League franchise that’s been around since 1894, boasts four World Series titles and has had players such as Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg and Al Kaline in the lineup. Best of all, the Tigers stayed in one city all these years.
Dear lord, what a great creation Tigger is! Anyone with little kids (or grandkids) knows that Tigger is a welcome infusion of energy, action and humor in all situations. He’s dangerous and tame, simultaneously. Thank you, A.A. Milne and Paul Winchell.
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
Ang Lee’s 2000 film classic is the cinematic equivalent to a tiger: it’s powerful, graceful, violent and visually arresting. You want tragic heroes and villains? You want epic history and scope? You want some kick-ass swordplay and wire walking? Your search is over. Also, it’s only fitting to include Mr. Lee in a List inspired by “Life of Pi.”
Dennis Leary is the voice of Diego the prehistoric tiger in the “Ice Age” movies. Although he curbs his normally robust language as Diego, Leary does a nice job of lending a soulful quality to the proceedings.
DANIEL STRIPED TIGER
Of course, there is no pop culture tiger with more soul than Daniel Striped Tiger from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” This little gent had the voice of Fred Rogers, which explained why he was so darned nice. Another thing in his favor? Sporty wristwatch.
No, he is not a model citizen. He’s a tremendous golfer, though. For years, he absolutely commanded the attention of his competitors and sports fans in general. Very tiger-like.
This guy – how could you not like him? Half of cartoonist Bill Watterson’s brilliant comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes,” tiger Hobbes is the savagely sophisticated counterpoint to incorrigible little boy Calvin. Young Calvin believes Hobbes is an actual tiger and not a stuffed animal. I’m inclined to agree.
EYE OF THE TIGER
There are several tiger songs I could have chosen, such as “Hold That Tiger” and “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail,” but instead I have selected Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” from 1982. Why? Because it’s in “Rocky III,” fool.
And now I’m off to see “Life of Pi.”