Richard Parker the Tiger vs. Wilson the Volleyball

Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" hits theaters this Wednesday, and if you've read the book, you're probably aware of Richard Parker's prominent role. Just who is this Rich P.? He's a full grown Bengal Tiger, and he's Pi's roomie onboard the (far too small) lifeboat they've been marooned on. This got us to thinking of another famous raft-mate, the immortal Wilson from "Cast Away." Remember that lovable little volleyball, the fella who saw Chuck through thick, thin, and occasional rudimentary dentistry work? So, who's the better chum for all your "lost at sea" needs? Let's break it down!


Wilson: Truth be told, most of Wilson's best work happened on the island. As a constant friend to Chuck (Tom Hanks), he was formed of his blood and provided solace when times were tough.

Richard Parker: The biggest thing R-Park has going for him is that he's also a living mammal. You can't put a price on a heartbeat and random growling noises.

Advantage: Close one, but I'm going with Wilson. He might not communicate, but he also doesn't stress you out each and every minute you're around him.

Natural Beauty

Wilson: Well, he's a volleyball. So he's not "amazing" in the looks department.

Richard Parker: As a tiger, Richard has a distinct advantage on this front. Haven't you always wanted to hang with a tiger? I know I have. I'd wrestle, take my tiger for walks, and generally do all the things that eventually got Roy Horn eaten. You can't resist the stripes!

Advantage: Richard Parker

Chances of Being Eaten By

Wilson: Almost no chance at all, as volleyballs haven't shown any ability (thus far) to evolve into sentient eating machines. Also: no teeth.

Richard Parker: High to very high. As a tiger, he gets hungry. Hungry tigers eat meat, so Pi is technically food to a tiger.

Advantage: Wilson.

Historical Pedigree

Wilson: My fondest memories of volleyball are from various summer Olympic teams.

Richard Parker: Tigers are a noble breed, and they've also taken up a strong position in our pop culture. Look no further than Hobbes (of "Calvin and Hobbes") or Tony (of "Tony the Tiger").

Advantage: Richard Parker.

Acting Ability

Wilson: If you didn't cry during Wilson's big scene then you're probably a cyborg sent from the future to steal our gold. Richard Parker: Part of Richard's work was handled with CGI (I assume Andy Serkis provided the body double on the set), but it's extremely difficult to tell where the practical effects end and the computers begin. Such is the genius of director Ang Lee's work, it's a seamless film (at least visually) that shows off a technical ability that rivals even "Avatar". But the question remains, can Richard Parker act? Or is it all instincts and software?

Advantage: Because I'm fairly certain they never put that tiger on the boat in the middle of the ocean, I'm going with Wilson. But it's soooooo close.

Final Verdict: If disaster leaves you up a creek without a paddle, and by the narrowest of margins, I think you take Wilson over Richard Parker. What say you?