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Rattin' Out a Relative
Ah, how soon they forget, murmurs with great regret a caller on the other end of the line feeling ratted out by "Ratatouille."
But this is not just any run-of-the-rodent complaint. This is Feivel Mousekewitz kvetching!
"It seems like only yesterday," says the mouse-out-of-kilter of what was then an immigrant infestation of Jewish vermin when "An American Tail" premiered in -- what else? -- darkened theaters more than 20 years ago.
Somewhere out there, Feivel wants his high-five back.
Well, it's not actually just out there; he's calling from Florida, where he and sister, Tanya Mousekewitz, as well as Papa and Mama have retired, doing pretty well off the film's residuals -- as well as that of the sequels, TV spin-offs and straight-to-video victuals.
Not bad for a one-time Russian Jewish rodent who arrived here penniless and cheeseless, discovering that it's hard to be a Jew no matter how many feet you have.
But the years have been good to Feivel, who's had his own toy-company and food-endorsement deals for matzah meal ("Crumbs are our bread and butter"). So why complain now when brother rat takes over the screen?
Exactly. "I think Remy is a relative, on the scurrying side, who changed his name."
From ... "Remansky -- which would make him part of the other side of the family, the Odessa side -- we're from Kiev -- you know, the black mice of the family."
But he's a rat, not a mouse. "Genetic engineering," Feivel harrumphs, and that's all he will say.
Does he begrudge Remy's role as king rat of the box office after "Ratatouille" raked in $47.2 mil its first weekend?
"No, no, no -- it has nothing to do with that," he says. "It's a terrific movie. Two thumbs-up -- if I had thumbs. It's not penury envy."
What it is, laments Feivel, is how Remy has regressed from his roots ... as a foodie. "The Ramanskys were always kosher," he says. "They were all branches -- Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and, yes ... Ratconstructionist."
Now, watching Remy relate to all those treif treasures he conjures up as the vermin who would be chef in "Ratatouille" rankles his long-lost relative.
And his gustatory icon -- Auguste Gusteau?
"He was good friends with Maurice Chevalier," intimates Feivel, with a squint in his eyes, an accusation for which he cannot offer collaboration.
"Where is Remy's memory? His sensitivity? Since when do you mix milk and meat? Ox tail and cream soup? Gar-bage!" squeaks out the star of "An American Tail," giving it the proper accented French pronunciation.
Which makes sense, of course, since Remy is a Parisian pest.
"No," adds Feivel, his cell beginning to fail from the sewer underneath the quartet of taverns he now calls home. ("It should still work," he says, annoyed at the phone. "I have four bars.")
As for Remy the rat?
"His roots are Russian. All this Parisian stuff ... he's a poseur. Trei bien? Treif bien!"
But there's hope of a reconciliation, thanks to the French Foreign Levy Legion, an associate of the Jewish Family Service, which has arranged a lunch between the two, "to hash out differences," as Feivel puts it.
Indeed, Remy will be hosting the get-together ("He can afford it now," sniffs Feivel), whose only problem may be finding the kosher place for a chow-down in bringing his bro' back to the table.
"It'll have to be neutral turf, too," says Feivel of finding a place where they can let their whiskers down, and not have to worry about the food flying or loudly trash-talking each other.
"I know. Maybe the Paris Hilton."