Just a couple of years ago, Animal Planet declared that Baltimore was the ninth worst city in the world when it came to rat infestations. Consider that Baltimore is listed as the 30th most populated city in the United States and apparently has more rats than Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio and other cities with twice as many people.


According to an ongoing study conducted Johns Hopkins University, size of the city has little to do with the rat population. It seems the more impoverished areas you have, the more rats. To be fair however, Baltimore doesn't have the most rats in the US - New Orleans, Atlanta, New York and Chicago might have more - Johns Hopkins though, is located in Baltimore.

So Baltimore is where director Theo Anthony set up his cameras to film his documentary about rats. The film is about people who have rats a pampered pets, people who feed rats to their other pampered pets (snakes), people who catch rats and people who observe rats for socialogical theory.


For that last concept, the film opens with a narrated observation that a Norway rat can jump 32 inches and that Baltimore trash cans are 34 inches - the camera shows a rat trying to get out of a garbage can. It reflects on the poor people who just can't break their own cycle with social walls that are just too hight to get over. That's a hell of a metaphor.


A great deal of the film revolves around guys who hunt, trap and kill rats. One guy declares that he runs the neighborhood and knows how to kill the rat population with a poison that gets on the rats and the rats lick off. Another guy and his partner hunt rats using ham luncheon meat and peanut butter. (Rats love peanut butter - it was used to train the rats in the movies "Willard" and "Ben". They guys catch the rats like their fishing...using fishing hooks and roods!


The other folks includes the family that has rat pets whom the literally pamper with their own rat-room. The exact opposite of them is a guy who feeds rats to his pet snake. Apparently the snake likes the baby rats most.


Anthony bounces from concept to concept with narration handled by a monotone female voice that may actually be computer generated. While the films segments are interesting, they aren't exactly captivating.


"Rat Film" is no more and no less what the title suggests - a movie about rats. It's not in-depth enough on any one aspect of rats, but merely an observation they happen to co-exist with humans rather easily if not always at their own peril.   -- GEOFF BURTON