Several shady and shallow people try to profit, one after the other, from a physically deformed teenager whose face looks like a snout of a rodent and who lives hidden in a city garbage dump, alone and miserable.
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A physically deformed and somewhat feral teenager whose face looks like the snout of a rodent lives in solitude and misery in a city dump. Two rednecks come across his lair and kidnap him. They inform the papers about their find in case someone might want to see or interview the "Ratboy". Only Nikki, a bored fired window dresser pretending to be a reporter shows up. She wants to profit off of the child as well, so she calls the cops who arrest the rednecks and she takes the child with her to her flat. She and her two dummy brothers try to think of a way to profit on the boy, but he tends to get easily agitated and depressed and no one wants anything to do with him except possibly hurt him emotionally or even physically. Written by
The idea must have looked bizarre on paper: a poignant comedy-drama about a half-human, half-rodent orphan found living in an LA dump, groomed to be a media sensation, and exploited by various Hollywood hustlers in search of a quick buck. It could have been an intriguing fantasy of show-biz manipulation, but like its title character the film cowers timidly in a corner, unwilling to break free from convention. Actress-turned-director Sondra Locke doesn't shy away from unflattering characterizations (she herself plays a ruthless opportunist using Ratboy as her ticket to fame), and wisely doesn't disturb the air of unreality around the story (no one, for example, shows much interest in Ratboy's origins). But the title character himself is never more than a transparent metaphor, and once that idea is exhausted nothing is left except a few gratuitous car chases and an ending drenched in post-E.T. pathos. The French apparently loved it, but keep in mind these are the same cinephiles who consider Jerry Lewis a comic genius.
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