Whether they're nine or 90, most people seem to go all gooey at the sight of cute animals. Hollywood producers must've got wind of this fact decades ago, as there's been a long history of big-screen releases featuring pets or wildlife, and more often than not those films have done well at the box office.
The latest movie to focus on animals is the Disney remake of The Lion King – due to arrive at Cineworld cinemas on 19th July. We know that fully grown lions aren't especially cute, but the scenes of Simba as a cub certainly are – and they inspired us to come up with some more films in which cute animals call the shots...
1. Babe (1995)
Such was the cuteness of the talking piglet in Chris Noonan's Oscar-nominated romp, it reportedly turned a lot of people vegetarian – including the film's human star, James Cromwell.
The US actor, who was 55 at the time of the film's release, told TakePart: "I was doing a picture in Australia called Babe, working with a lot of animals and animal trainers. I cared about their welfare. And then, of course, you have lunch and it’s all there in front of you. And I thought I should go the whole hog, so to speak." A 1995 article in the Vegetarian Times also claimed that the film had contributed to a slump in pork sales that year.
Sadly, Babe missed out on an Academy Award for Best Picture, losing out to Braveheart. Which is a shame, because we'd have loved to see the little pink fella up on that stage.
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)
Whether it's Alvin and his chipmunk buddies, Pinky and Perky, or that band of helpful mice in Bagpuss, there's something incredibly sweet about animals that sing (note: we've never seen this happen in real-life). Recognising this, Ross Bagdasarian Snr created the original Alvin and the Chipmunks – a group of animated rodents – for a 1958 novelty record.
Despite the 'chipmunks' being nothing more than sped-up adult voices, the single was a massive success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. As an homage to Bagdasarian Snr, the 2007 film's main character Dave Seville (Jason Lee) lives in number 58.
3. Penguins of Madagascar (2014)
While the 2005 film Madagascar had its fair share of laughs, it was the sub-plot featuring four escaped penguins that really stood out. Such was their cuteness, a spin-off film was crying out to be made – and so it was that Penguins of Madagascar landed in 2014.
Complete with gondola chases, sky-falls and even a bit of oompah dancing, the standalone adventure of Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private was a joy to behold, rounded off by a magnificent turn by John Malkovich as the evil octopus, Dave (Dave! Dave!?, etc).
4. Furry Vengeance (2010)
Starring Brendan Fraser as a real-estate developer who's terrorised by animals after he threatens to tear down the natural environment they call home, Roger Kumble's slapstick comedy is rarely (OK, never) featured in 'all-time best movie' lists. Indeed, it received a paltry 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But never mind all that, as it's chock-full of raccoons, mice and other forest-dwelling creatures, endeavouring to make Fraser's life a misery in the most hilarious ways possible. In other words, it's Home Alone but with animals.
5. Ice Age (2002)
The cutest animal in the Ice Age series has to be Scrat – that acorn-obsessed squirrel thingy. Test audiences certainly seemed to think so. According to IMDB, Scrat – 'voiced' by Ice Age director Chris Wedge – was only meant to feature briefly at the start of the first movie, but proved so popular with initial audiences that he was given more scenes, along with appearances in subsequent films.
In 2011, it was reported that researchers in Kentucky had uncovered two skulls during an archaeological dig. After closer analysis, it was reckoned that the skulls had belonged to a previously unknown, sabre-toothed squirrel species that may have closely resembled our old mate Scrat. Bet it wasn't as cute.