movie film review | chris tookey


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  Aristocats Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
6.29 /10
Voices: Phil Harris , Eva Gabor, Sterling Holloway
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Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons & others

Released: 1970
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 78

Butler deliberately loses cats who may inherit his employer's fortune.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Warm, engaging and easy on the eye, this is the least scary and most undervalued of all the good Disney cartoons. Perhaps the romantic plot - an upper-class puss is booted out of her comfortable home, whereupon she falls for lovable alley-cat - is too close to The Lady And The Tramp, while the kidnapping of her feline family does bear a similarity to 101 Dalmatians.

The storyline lacks the suspense and richness of the very best Disney: in order to eke it out to 79 minutes, the studio had to insert a lot of irrelevant slapstick between the villainous butler and a couple of dogs. Although children may find the byplay amusing, adults would most likely prefer to be getting on with the main story. And the film was completed after the great storyteller Walt Disney’s death, so perhaps there was a temptation for critics in 1970 to say (as it turned out, wrongly) that the studio could never be as creative again.

Visually, however, The Aristocats bears comparison with Disney’s masterpieces. The backgrounds of turn-of-the-century Paris are lovely, and the main characters skilfully animated, in a cross between traditional Disney cartoon and Art Nouveau posters. And there’s just a hint of 60s psychedelia in the big production numbers.

Time has also been kind to the jazzy, musical comedy score, which must have sounded old-fashioned in 1970; at least one of the numbers, “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” sung by Scatman Crothers, can now be recognized as a classic, even though it was overlooked at that year’s Oscars (as was the rest of the score).

But it’s the voices which make this movie. Hermione Baddeley shines as a kindly and refined Madame, Roddy Maude-Roxby is all genial greed as Edgar the butler, and Eva Gabor is suitably seductive and exotic as the mother cat. Of the American contingent, Sterling Holloway (most familiar now as the voice of Winnie The Pooh) makes Rocquefort a delightfully cheesy mouse; and, as Thomas O’Malley the alley cat, Phil Harris adds to his triumphant Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book.

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