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Cats Don’t Dance (1997)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

So I have this recurring nightmare…
Well, actually I have several recurring nightmares. You don’t live a life like mine without picking up a few ghosts in the attic. Horned King nightmares. Coachman nightmares. Foodfight nightmares. And this new one where a blue cat seems awfully mad at me for something that I can’t remember doing but I’m getting off topic.
So, in this nightmare it’s like that scene from The Untouchables where all the gangsters are having a banquet except instead of gangsters it’s movie critics. All the big critics are there and I’m sitting where Jon Lovitz did in the movie. And Al Capone (Roger Ebert) is giving the big “Teamwork” speech and then he stops in mid-sentence and he looks at me.
“You.” He says.
“Yeah boss?” I say.
“You’re a critic, huh?”
“Well…yeah.”
“What did you think of Citizen Kane?”
“Uh, never actually saw it.”
The Godfather?”
“Sorry.”
Before Sunset?
“Not really into chick flicks.”
Battleship Potemkin?”
“It’s on my list, I swear to God. I’ve seen Crash though, and that won an Oscar so that’s something right?”
And then Roger Ebert beats me to death with his Pulitzer. And then I wake up in a cold sweat screaming “I’m a fraud! A FRAUD! AND THE UNTOUCHABLES SUCKED!”
More like the "The Unwatchables" amirite?

More like the “The Unwatchables” amirite?

Yeah, so I’m actually quite conscious of the fact that for someone who reviews movies I’ve seen relatively few of the Greatest Movies Ever Made. I’ve been slowly working on expanding my cinematic palette beyond animated films and computer game cut scenes however, and one of the all-time classics that I recently discovered and happily found earns its hype and then some is the 1952 musical Singin’ In the Rain. You probably don’t need me to tell you this but if by some chance you let this one slip you by then I whole-heartedly recommend you change your life and get right with God because that movie is awesome. Great songs, fantastic choreography, iconic performances and fruckin’ hilarious (I use “fruckin'” when “frickin” is too mild and “fuckin'” is too coarse). Today’s movie, Cat’s Don’t Dance has a lot in common with Singin’ in the Rain. They’re both love letters to the golden age of Hollywood and they both benefited from the talents of the great Gene Kelly, who acted as choreographer for CDD. It might sound weird for a cartoon to need a choreographer, but lemme tell ya: These cats can fruckin’ dance. And they do. In fact, this movie probably has one of the most misleading titles in cinema history, right up there with The Never Ending Story and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.
In fairness, "Friday the 13th: There's Gonna be 8 more of these fuckin' things so get comfortable, folks" was never going to fit on the marquee.

In fairness, “Friday the 13th: There’s Gonna be 8 more of these fuckin’ things so get comfortable, folks” was never going to fit on the marquee.

This movie was part of the wave of animated features that followed in the wake of the Disney renaissance, with studios desperate to have a Lion King to call their own. CDD was produced by Turner Animation, the great American animation studio that never was. This was actually the only full length animated feature the studio ever made before Turner was merged into Time Warner but on the strength of this movie I think they could have been a serious contender. They definitely had the talent, not least of which was director Mark Dindal who later made the fantastic Emperor’s New Groove  and the actually-not-so-bad-if-you-go-in-with-an-open-mind Chicken Little. Let’s take a look. 

So the movie begins with our hero, an optimistic tabby cat named Danny (Scott Bakula), saying goodbye to his friends as he leaves for Los Angeles to make it in Hollywood. He gets on the bus and says goodbye to sleepy Kokomo, Indiana.
"I am Unshaved Mouse, and I approve this blog. All my readers should check it out!"

“Hah! That’s a funny name. Indiana.”

Our first song is On Our Way, one of eight songs written for the movie by Randy Newman and I’ve gotta say I was pleasantly surprised by his work here. I mean, they’re not seminal classics but they all hum along nicely and more importantly they all sound distinct from each other, something that I’ve always thought Newman struggles with.

As for the animation? Acquired taste. The colour scheme is kind of garish but the characters move really, really fluidly even if the models are quite a bit less detailed than you’d normally get in a Disney movie. But, while the character designs are simple they’re certainly charming and the facial expressions are fantastic. In how they move the characters are really closer to Looney Tunes than Sleeping Beauty and I can see how it might jar with some people. They’re definitely “cartoons”, rubbery and bouncy and constantly giving the laws of physics the finger. But I dug it, that’s really all I can say.
Danny arrives in Hollywood and immediately starts singing…um…Danny’s Arrival Song.
"Look, you can have good songs or good song titles. Pick one."

“Look, you can have good songs or good song titles. Pick one.”

Now Scott Bakula, from what my hard working team of search engines have been able to uncover, had never done a musical before and hasn’t done one since which should probably raise alarm bells. But as it turns out? Not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I might even go so far as to say “Quite Good”. I might, but I won’t, because I still can’t forgive Scott Bakula.

He knows what he did.

He knows what he did.

Danny’s one of those musical characters whose optimism is around as contagious as bubonic plague (“Why anyone can make it in this town!” “Even me?” “Sure, kid!” “Golly gee!”) and he ends up infecting a little penguin kid called Pudge who pretty much becomes Danny’s sidekick on the spot. Danny heads over to Farley Wink’s talent agency, singing all the while about how in Hollywood the streets are paved with gold.

But the wind would cut through you, its no place for the old.

But the wind would cut through you, it’s no place for the old.

 Danny meets a bunch of other animal actors in the reception of the talent agency. There’s Tilly the Hippo (Kathy Najimy), Cranston the Goat (Hal Halbrook), T.W. Turtle (Don Knotts), Frances the Fish (voiced by former Disney voice artist Betty Lou Gerson in her final film role).

See what they did there?

See what they did there?

They’re a jaded, bitter bunch of actors (he said as if there’s another kind) but Tilly tells Danny that Mammoth Pictures is casting a Noah’s Ark movie which means that there’s plenty of work for animals (and presumably for rock monsters) and she sends him in to meet with Farley Wink, a human being voiced by Frank Welker who, in his spare time, uses his abilities to impersonate animals to fight crime on the streets of Los Angeles. As it happens, Wink is looking for two cats and signs up Danny on the spot which is totally how it works in Hollywood. You just walk into a talent agent and he gets you a part. That is how it works. But Farley still needs a female cat for the Noah’s Ark picture, which stars Darla Dimple (America’s sweetheart, lover of children and animals). So he turns to his secretary, a cat named Sawyer who’s voiced by Jasmine Guy and is, quite frankly, pure unadulterated furry bait.

furry bait

 Sawyer reluctantly agrees to do it and all the animals head over to Mammoth Studios for filming. Okay guys, I need your help on something. There’s a scene where they’re entering the studio gates and they see a bull storming out muttering “This is so humiliating, I’m out of this picture business!” and I would bet my tail that he’s voiced by Patrick Warburton but I can’t find anything on IMDb and googling “Cat’s Don’t Dance” and “Patrick Warburton” just gets you pages about Emperor’s New Groove and really, really weird slashfic about the tender love between a great voice actor and a well-received but financially unsuccessful animated film. I need to know if he voiced this bull. I can’t have uncredited Patrick Warburton performances out there, they’re a precious resource.

Anyway, at the ark set Danny meets Pudge who’s also been cast and they get into costume (nice sight gag: One rabbit goes into the costume room and a dozen come out). Then Danny gets his script:

How Beckettian.

How Beckettian.

Okay, so if you haven’t picked up on it yet, Cat’s Don’t Dance is an allegory for the plight of black entertainers in Hollywood in the late thirties (Gone with the Wind has just come out so that dates it as 1939). The animals all have oodles of talent and want to perform but are stymied by the human studio system that only allows them to play tiny, stereotyped roles. “In this town” as Sawyer says “Cats say “meow”.” See, in Hollywood in the thirties it was almost impossible for non-white actors to get good parts. Not like today. It’s certainly a story worth telling, and gives the movie more of a thematic heft than a lot of other animated films as long as you can overlook the unfortunate implication that humans=white people.

Well anyway, Danny decides to go off script. As a viewer I’m rooting for him. However, as a writer I think he should read the fucking line that was fucking written in the fucking script by the guy who’s fucking job it is to write the fucking line. His job is to read the fucking line. So maybe he should read the fucking line? Just a thought.

"Just off the top of my fucking head."

“Just off the top of my fucking head.”

Anyway, the director calls places and all the animals get ready. The director is voiced by Rene Auberjonois. He doesn’t really do all that much in the movie, but I love him. Because he’s voiced by Rene Auberjonois.

Terok nor

He knows what he did.

This takes us into the next song Little Boat on the Sea, which is sung by the star of the movie, Little Darla Dimple. Okay, so this movie has a total of 11 credited writers and it’s probably impossible to know which of them, when pressed to devise a villain for the movie came up with “Evil Shirley Temple” but I sincerely hope that he or she got a raise and a big wet kiss because that is just GOLD. As a concept, that’s fantastic. Evil Shirley Temple. I’d pay to see that movie, wouldn’t you?

“Hey, what’s this movie about?”

“Okay, so there’s this Evil Shirley Temple…”

“Sold!”

“…and there’s this cat…”

“I. Said. Sold.”

However, it’s not just the concept that’s brilliant, the execution is really strong too. Darla’s speaking voice (Ashely Peldon) and her singing voice (Lindsay Ridgeway) are phenomenally good despite both being only 14 at the time the movie was made. And the character design is wonderful too, capable of switching easily between saccharine sweet and utterly demented. In short, a win. As Darla sings Little Boat on the Sea (which is an excellent pastiche of the kind of musical diabetes the real Temple had to sing) Danny starts free-styling and ends up stealing the spotlight from Darla. Darla goes ballistic and calls…Max.

Max

Titan

“TITAN!”

Max (Mark Dindal) is hands down my favourite character in this thing, an absolutely ginormous bald monster with a Schwarzenegger-esque Austrian accent. He owes a great deal to classic Looney Tunes villains like Nasty Canasta and the Shropshire Slasher, those blank eyed, barely human mountains of muscle and hairy knuckles. I also have to give special mention to Max’s speaking animation. When he talks, his whole face remains as immobile as a granite cliff, except for his lips which move with a Miyazaki-esque fluidity and grace. It’s fruckin’ beautiful, man. So while the rest of the terrified animals flee for shelter behind Wall Maria (if you don’t get that reference go to Netflix, watch Attack on Titan and thank me later) Max picks up Danny and rumbles:
“HOW DOES THE KITTY CAT GO?”
“Meow?”
“VEREEEEEEEEEE GOOOOOOOOOD.”
Max then asks Darla  “WEEL THAT BE ALL MEEZ DEEEEMPULL?” and is dismissed, passing through the Max-sized hole he left in the wall. Danny, meanwhile, seems to have gotten the message.
Sidenote: I once worked as an extra on a show called The Tudors and this was pretty much my default expression.

Sidenote: I once worked as an extra on a show called The Tudors and this was pretty much my default expression.

 Danny is upset because he doesn’t understand what he did wrong, asking Sawyer if there was something wrong with his performance and she tells him it doesn’t matter if his performance was good or not and that he should stop making a fool of himself. This leads to a really nice little exchange:

“All I want to do is the thing I love, doesn’t everybody?”

“It’s not that simple.”

“It is in Kokomo.”

“Well, maybe that’s where you should have stayed.”

Sawyer leaves Danny to mope but Pudge comes over to try and cheer him up. Pudge tells Danny that he thought his dancing was totally boss (as they used to say in the thirties) and Danny shows him a few dance moves.They stop when they hear piano music and go to look for the source. They find Woolie the Elephant (John Rhys Davies), the mascot of Mammoth Studios, playing piano in his trailer.

I should probably tell him what those keys are made of, but then he might stop playing.

I should probably tell him what those keys are made of, but then he might stop playing.

 Woolie invites them for a cup of tea. Turns out he’s a phenomenally talented musician, but all he ever gets to do is blow his trunk at the start of every movie. This, of course, is a nod to the real-life MGM lion and his tragic story.

"Alright Spartacus, give me a roar!"

“Alright Leo, give me a roar!”

"God. How did it come to this. I was an actor once. I  played Hamlet. There were eight curtain calls!"

“God. How did it come to this? I was an actor once. I played Hamlet. There were eight curtain calls!”

Woolie tells Danny that all the animals that Danny’s met came to Hollywood to follow their dreams but eventually got ground down by the system. Danny sees a photograph of Sawyer dancing and Woolie says that she was an exceptionally talented singer and dancer before she gave up on her dreams. Danny refuses to let this stand and the next day when all the animals are gathered in the studio lot he launches into Animal Jam and gets all the various critters (even Sawyer) to join in a big song and dance number. Danny comes up with the idea of having the animals perform in front of J.B. Mammoth, the studio head. Danny reasons that once he sees how talented they all are, he’ll have to give them better parts. Darla overhears this, and tells Max to invite Danny to her mansion for tea.
Over tea, Darla fake-apologises to Danny for siccing her ogre on him and asks him if there’s any way she can make it up to him. She offers to get him an audition with Mammoth and even promises him the use of her sound-stage. She also gives him some advice in the song Big and Loud, basically saying that he needs to go hard and go home. It’s an awesome some, and once Danny is out the door Darla sings an even better dark reprise, revealing how she’s going to flood the soundstage when all the animals have gathered there. You know, crazy and evil though she undoubtedly is, I can’t really hate Darla if only for the fact that if she went through half the shit the real Shirley Temple did she’s entirely justified in being crazy and evil. Seriously. Look up Baby Burlesks on Wikipedia if you ever want to spend several hours with your face buried in your hands muttering “What the fruck humanity, what even the fruck?”
Alright so all the animals gather in the ark, two by two, two by two and as they rehearse Darla and Max flood the soundstage almost killing them and sending a tidal wave of destruction through Mammoth Studios.
Oh, and you just know the insurance company is going to try and claim "Act of God".

Oh, and you just know the insurance company is going to try and claim “Act of God”.

A furious Mammoth blames the animals for the disaster and has them thrown of the lot as Darla shows up to gloat. Sawyer and the others can’t believe that Danny was stupid enough to actually trust her. Woolie tells Danny that “The spotlight will never be on fellows like you and me. Go home.” Danny has a moment of clarity and decides to leave Los Angeles (that’s how you know it’s a moment of clarity). Sawyer sings Tell me Lies, a really nice bluesy lament only slightly hampered by the fact that her singing voice (Natalie Cole) sounds absolutely nothing like Jasmine Guy. Regardless, it’s a great performance and another genuinely good song from Mr. Newman.

Danny gets on the bus to Kokomo but looking out the window he sees a long line of unemployed animals and decides that he can’t abandon them. He orders the bus driver to stop and the bus driver sputters “Why you wanna stop for? We just got started!” and Danny answers “Exactly. See you in the movies.”

With the help of Pudge, Danny breaks into Mammoth Studios and issues invitations to the premiere of Darla’s movie to all his animal friends. Danny’s plan is to wait until all the greatest stars and moguls in Hollywood are gathered in the cinema for the premiere, then lock the door, set the cinema on fire and in the confusion Ulmer and the Bear Jew can storm the box and machine gun Darla and Max…wait. Wrong movie.

Danny plan is actually to have the animals perform onstage after the movie and he and Pudge get the stage ready. But they’re overheard by Max who chases Danny out onto the roof and onto a massive inflated Darla Dimple balloon. Max corners Danny and makes a face like one of the goddamn Reapers from Blade 2.

Reaper

But Danny manages to burst the balloon and send Max blasting off into the stratosphere. The movie now over, Danny takes the stage and the animals put on Nothing Going to Stop Us Now (the movie’s big showstopper) despite Darla’s last desperate attempts to sabotage them. One thing I really like about CCD is that unlike a of the Disney movies I’ve reviewed on this blog (even some of the really good ones) it doesn’t forget that it’s a musical halfway through and ends on a rousing song and dance number like a good musical should. Darla is revealed as the crazy little tyke she is and the animals are suddenly the hottest thing in Hollywood and are offered contracts by Mammoth on the spot. And the movie ends with a montage of movie posters reimagined with our heroes in the starring roles.

Look, I dont want to upset anyone but that movie came out in 1994 and there is no way that goat is still alive.

Look, I don’t want to upset anyone but that movie came out in 1994 and there is no way that goat is still alive.

***

Turner Animation never made another film after this and on the strength of Cat’s Don’t Dance, that’s a damn shame. This movie is not exactly all-time classic material but it’s certainly good enough to hint at a studio that could have been a real contender if they’d just been a little luckier. Smarter than you’d expect, often very funny and just a really solid musical to boot. Check it out.

Scoring
Animation: 15/20
Maybe not for everyone but I found it fun and engaging.
Leads: 15/20
Nothing groundbreaking, but Danny and Sawyer are both perfectly likeable.
Villain: 17/20
Strongest element of the film, a great concept matched with excellent execution.
Supporting Characters: 15/20
Most of the supporting characters are one note, but at least they’re all in tune.
Music: 15/20
Actually one of the most consistently good Randy Newman scores I’ve heard.
FINAL SCORE: 76%
NEXT UPDATE: 19 March 2015
Cats Month takes a decidedly darker turn as Mouse takes a look at the German animated horror movie Felidae. What could go wrong?
Neil Sharpson aka The Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, blogger and comic book writer living in Dublin. The blog updates with a new animated movie review every second Thursday. He’s also serialising his novel The Hangman’s Daughter with a new chapter every Saturday. Today’s review was made possible by the kind donation of Daniel Austin. Thanks Daniel!

64 comments

  1. Singin’ in the Rain is the greatest musical of all time. End of discussion. Everything about it is perfect. Comparing Cat’s Don’t Dance to Singin’ in the Rain is really making me want to watch Cats Don’t Dance.

  2. I found Cats Don’t Dance to be a decent movie in all but one aspect: the animation. For some reason, it really stuck out to me. It’s so vibrant and colorful, and it really uses that Looney Tunes-esque style very well. I’d go so far as to call it one of the best animated movies ever. As in, one of the movies with the best animation. Sure, it’s not super-awesome detailed animation like in most Disney movies, but it doesn’t need to be.

    1. Does he? “Hello”? Are you sure he doesn’t say, “Hell-Ho-Hos, you better get some BandAids ’cause I’m gonna ruff you up something pawful” or some other fucking thing?

  3. I know I shouldn’t be scared of Cats Month… but Jesus, Mouse, you’ve made me really fruckin’ scared of Cats Month. Forget snakes in the mail, I’m gonna send you a goddamn Aragog.

      1. Oh you do NOT make mock of the biological crisis! Enjoy your Fraser Island Funnelweb, Mouse. I happen to love our vicious monsters and their horrible, fascinating antics.

      2. Okay, you just got your hellbeast upgraded, paddyboy. As soon as I can get this tiger shark into an envelope, I’ll –

        AAAAAAAARGH SHIT THAT WAS MY FAVOURITE LEG!

  4. Ah, Cats Don’t Dance, one of my favorite under-rated animated movies. I’m a sucker for old-school style musicals and simple character designs, and yes, Darla and Max are a joy to watch.
    I haven’t seen any of the ‘Greatest Movies of all Time’ either, but I’m not a movie reviewer, so I guess I don’t have to feel quite as bad about it.

      1. Well, I guess Disney haven’t learned their lesson, as they’re making Zootopia which is most likely going to be filled with anthropomorphic animals.

        In all seriousness, I’m sure you can make disturbing porn out of anything and it’ll gain an audience.

      2. Damn you, Disney! Even as a kid I crushed hard on the literally foxy Robin Hood . . . and felt weird that the object of my crush was a different species than me.

      1. The fandom will only get bigger and bigger if Disney can manage pull off a Lion King sized hit with Zootopia. But, alas, only time will tell.

        I actually consider myself a furry, but I’m not apart of the fandom. And I agree, it is rather strange. Yet the artwork those furries produce sometimes is just stunning…

      2. @ Dinosaur Guy
        Care to name a few? For the most part, I don’t find fandoms as much “scary” as they are irritating.*cough*bronies*cough*

  5. You should point out that Darla wound up cleaning streets at the end, her movie career in shambles. Reminds me of what happened in Nashville a few times.

  6. I remember seeing an advertisement for this back in ’98, though the commercial rubbed me the wrong way, so I didn’t bother checking the story out. Thanks to you, now we know what it’s about and I didn’t have to watch it, thanks Mouse. It’s funny, I actually wondered if it was a Don Bluth film, since his cartoons were almost as popular as Disney, but everyone kept mistaking them for Disney (which I find very annoying).

    It’s interesting. I remember watching some Shirley Temple films as a kid (grandma’s a huge fan of her), and I also watched this docu-drama Wonderful World of Disney made about her. Shirley’s just lucky she ended up the way she did, because many kids in Hollywood these days don’t have parents that are responsible enough to protect them in that toxic environment. She’s also one of the only child stars I know of who was as sweet and charming in real life as she was in front of the camera. It was amazing that she not only kept on achieving great things after her filming career, but that she didn’t fall into the destructive lifestyle many child stars fall into today.

    Don’t be fooled by that “Greatest Movies of All Time” crapola, Mouse. Too often the Academy and their PAID critics (thankfully you’re too smart to be one of them) always shower praises on shitty films, and they either ignore or dump on most of the good stuff. (George Lucas hasn’t been on speaking terms with them for years). I remember once hearing a quote by a someone in the biz saying that the Academy Awards was just designed for the people there to glorify themselves. They’re not as important as tv makes them out to be. The only times I ever agreed with the awards given out is when movies like “Titanic” or the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy got the recognition they deserved, or when a GOOD animated film actually gets the Best Animated Feature. (“Big Hero 6” won it this year, yay!).

    Btw, the jerks who made “Noah” should be horse-whipped, beaten to a bloody pulp, and their remains fired into the sun for making such an awful film.

    1. Well….I thought Big Hero 6 was good, but it did not deserve the academy award in my eyes compared to Frozen. The Lego Movie was snubbed to hell.

      1. Hey now, it was just a director giving his own take on the source material, source material that has been changed, and tampered with ever since it was written first hand.

      2. I agree Nat. That movie should never have been made. In fact, I think it’s the only movie released in 2014 worse than Maleficent.

      3. For me, it’s pretty much “Head Banger: the Movie.” And, in a sense, I think it makes the story of Noah even MORE unbelievable to non-Christians, with the whole rock spirit things.

      4. Nat, sadly I think that was the director/writer’s intention. Before it came out, I believe I heard somewhere that he was going as far away from the source material as he could, and Russell Crow himself found the biblical story ludicrous. Answers in Genesis, a creation science ministry that I follow, has said a lot about the movie, and they strongly recommend Christians to not see it. You can still build an argument against the movie just by doing research.

        What I find sad is that we STILL don’t have a good movie about Noah. This was a very wasted opportunity, and the people involved spat on it and spread their feces all over it. It’s such a disgusting film. On the other hand, we have more than enough movies about Moses and Jesus, and I’m not sure why Hollywood has been cranking out more when we could see movies about David, Daniel, Esther, Samson, Elijah, Gideon, Jonah (that would be epic!), or even Paul and his ministry. Heck, why not a movie about Revelation (done right, of course, and keeping it biblical!).

      5. The majority of Bible adaptations (that I’m familiar with, anyway) seem to be aimed for children. Barring Dreamworks’ “The Prince of Egypt,” there’s the countless Sunday school animated short films and pretty much every Veggie Tales video ever. Perhaps that’s a factor?

      1. Why do so many people only remember “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”? Strange things are happening…

  7. You….finally reviewed this movie??? You finally reviewed this movie! YES!!!! (after about a year’s wait or so, requesting this movie was worth it…)

    Personally, I love this movie. It’s definitely in my top 10 list of favorite animated films, and at least in my top 20 list of favorite movies period, maybe top 30. So I probably like it a lot more than you do. But I’m glad you did like it.

    Though I thought this was from Warner Bros., and didn’t Warner Bros. make Iron Giant later? Ah well. As a kid, I thought this movie deserved a sequel…seeing as though this was the last film Turner made, I can see at least one reason why. Another being it didn’t do too well in theatres, which I think is ridiculous.

    I have to say though, as much as I’m thankful, that there’s at least one flaw. As I was enjoying reading through your hilarious review and praise for this movie, I waited on bated breath for the climax scene and what you would do with it. But…you didn’t do what I was so waiting for you to do.

    You missed a great opportunity for the famous joke “Lazy Bastard Kookaburras”.

    I don’t care that Max was hoisted UP in the air instead of down to the ground. You could have used that joke in reverse. Did I mention it’s one of my favorite jokes too, along with “Have You Danced With The Red Rooster In The Pale Moonlight?”

    WHY???????

    1. Ah but I already did a falling up “INDUSTRIOUS TRUE BORN KOOKABURRAS” joke in Treasure Planet. Honestly I was really racing to finish this one so the ending had to be rushed. Warner Bros released it after it was made.

      1. Ah I see. I never saw Treasure Planet the full way through, so I don’t think I read that review. Or I may have but just read it once.

        Either way, this was a great review. Definitely better than AristoCats, right?

  8. “However, as a writer I think he should read the fucking line that was fucking written in the fucking script by the guy who’s fucking job it is to write the fucking line.”

    Heh, as an actor I’ve been known to fudge or reword lines especially if the script is poorly written, and as a director my attitude is usually “humanize the line” (a lot of times dialogue sounds better on page than it does coming out of an actor’s mouth, so basically “get the point of the sentence across while not sounding like you’re a fictional construct” rules the day). I’ve never seen this movie so I don’t know how far off-book the guy goes (I’m assuming the correct adjective thereof is “wildly”), so I’m not sure if I could justify his ad-libbing, though XD

    1. He basically starts free-styling in the middle of a musical number and LITERALLY steals the spotlight. Honestly, you’re supposed to side with him but I’m with Darla. That’s just unprofessional.

      1. I don’t think we’re supposed to SIDE with Danny in that scene, so much as feel bad for him when he begins to wake up to the brutal reality about Hollywood. Still, he’s optimistic in thinking that the public will change their views on animals if only they could “show them what they can do.”

        What we ARE supposed to side with Danny on is leading his team of animals in a showstopping musical number at an event that literally belongs to Darla. I mean, yes she deserved it after what she did to them, but it still kinda hangs in the back of your mind. That, as well as the fact that he STOLE the guest list for the premiere in order to add his friends’ names SO that they could perform this mentioned showstopper. But you know what? It’s true to the movie’s theme of lying and cheating. Danny’s big break came at the price of that deceitful trick. In the end, has Danny learned anything? Yes, his talent dazzles the audience the night of the premiere, but in order to get onstage, he’s had to be as manipulative and underhanded as Darla was. It’s satisfying to see Darla taken down in the movie’s frenzied and spectacular finale, but Danny has had to lie and manipulate events to steal the limelight-at an event that legitimately belongs to Darla in the first place.

        Early on, Danny made a fool of himself by trying to hog the spotlight from Darla Dimple. But is Danny really so different from Darla, in the end? Both want desperately to be famous, and both believe stardom is their birthright. At one point, Darla sings, “I didn’t get where I am today, by letting myself get pushed around.” She at least understands the rule of the jungle that is behind stardom- never give an inch. There’s always someone else ready to topple you from that precarious perch. Danny’s talent and ambition are what make him Darla’s enemy; it doesn’t matter that he’s a nice guy. There’s only room for one at the very top. In order for Danny (or anyone else) to succeed, Darla will have to fail; it’s the Hollywood way. When Darla sets Danny up for his fall, she counts on his ambition and his naiveté to contribute to his undoing. The fact that Danny wants stardom so badly makes him blind to Darla’s duplicity and betrayal; he is his own worst enemy. In trying to buck the system by circumventing the “paying your dues” part of the equation, Danny sows the seed for his ruin- and the ruin of his fellow performers.

        And even though Danny and his friends defeated the villainous Darla, Danny will always have to deal with Darla’s boss, L.B. Mammoth – a far more powerful character than she. Danny’s triumph at the film’s conclusion- the overdue recognition of his talent- doesn’t alter the fact that his future career will always be driven by the likes and dislikes of a capricious public (presented in the movie as something fickle, frenzied, and largely stupid). Danny and his pals may be stars- but there will always be another Danny right behind them, waiting for his or her chance. It’s fitting the last shot of the film is not of Danny and his pals, but of the now-reduced Darla, sweeping up around the studio. We suspect, despite her diminished circumstances, she may be the comeback kid, and in a world as jaded and urbane as the one director Mark Dindal has created, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Darla may be just the thing Danny’s next movie may need.

  9. (yesssss…it’s finally coming…Sorry if it seems like I became a bit of a nag in the past few months, it’s only because when I saw that you weren’t doing Felidae after The Thief and the Cobbler, I got a bit anxious. Better late than never I suppose, especially since I know what’s in store…)

    Anyway, I personally love Cat’s Don’t Dance. It’s a bit rushed, but otherwise it’s a lot of fun. I also think Darla’s one of the best non-disney animated villains, and that considering my feelings for Randy Newman’s work, the music’s great.

  10. I finally decided to watch this thing ages after reading the review. I actually quite liked it. Darla really was fantastic as a villain and Max was just hysterical. The leads were good too

  11. “…so this movie has a total of 11 credited writers and it’s probably impossible to know which of them, when pressed to devise a villain for the movie came up with “Evil Shirley Temple” but I sincerely hope that he or she got a raise and a big wet kiss because that is just GOLD. As a concept, that’s fantastic. Evil Shirley Temple. I’d pay to see that movie, wouldn’t you?”

    I’d like to point out that 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series did Evil Shirley Temple first in the episode “Baby Doll”. Which means exactly what it sounds like, Batman vs. Evil Shirley Temple.

    That character, Baby Doll, resembled Darla’s design too, not surprising considering the show’s 1940’s noir-styled aesthetics. Batman: The Animated Series was produced by WB Animation. Cats Don’t Dance had come out just after Turner Feature Animation merged with Warner Bros in 1996. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a major overlap of creative talent between BTAS and Cats Don’t Dance. Which means someone reused their own idea or an idea the company owned a patent to.

  12. Ahh, Cats Don’t Dance. This was a fun one. Though honestly I never got to catch any of those fancy movies either. I’m not that much of a movie fancier, but I guess I can say we’re in the same boat. I have seen Singin’ In The Rain though, I caught that at a pretty young age, so I’ve always been pretty keen on it. Even have the titular song on my iPod. And yeah, I can definitely see its resemblance to Cats Don’t Dance. Definitely a couple of my favourite meta Hollywood flicks. Also, uh-oh, are you one of the non-Newman fans along with Doug? I kind of enjoyed his work in the Pixar scene. Though yeah, they’re all pretty uniformly signature of him, I guess. Now I wish I’d seen Malcolm in the Middle before this. An actor called Hal (twice!) voicing a character called Cranston would have cracked me up tons if I’d seen it after I got into that show.

    I dunno about Danny’s getting cast too soon, wasn’t his character more or less an extra? Maybe I’m wrong about how hard it is to get to be an extra, but still, if these guys had a deadline, a cat’s a cat, right? Though wow, I had no idea this was one of those cartoon-animals-as-black-entertainers allegories. Another piece in the vein of Roger Rabbit which I swear I am going to watch and read your review of some time, I am totally being honest here. That flew over my head, but then again, like I said, I watched this on the earlier side of my life, so I wasn’t all that socially aware back then. And yeah, making animals represent black people bears kind of unfortunate implications, but really I think it seems more likely the writers more meant to illustrate the distorted views of the white folks of the time rather than reinforce them. The people running things in the story treat the animals like they would actual animals rather than the clearly skilled and capable performers they are portrayed as. It might be more or less a matter of how you look at it, really.

  13. Hmm, did you ever catch that episode of Madeline where they go to Hollywood? There’s a Shirley Temple expy they meet who turns out to be a prick, kind of similar to this, but they end up befriending her. I wonder which of these did that first. I also wonder what Ms. Temple was actually like. I have heard being a child actor can get to you, I wonder if such a busy childhood did things to her. I’d look up that badly-named burlesque movie if I didn’t plan on sleeping tonight, but let me guess, Honey Boo Boo isn’t exactly as much a sign of the times as some say it is? By the sounds of it, even being an extra is rough. I think you can be glad you didn’t get cast in Game of Thrones, I don’t want to imagine what default distorted expression that would result in.

    Ha ha, you made that lion play Hamlet on purpose, didn’t you? Though who knows, maybe he actually was *that* lion. And then, let me guess, he stumbled into a mysteriously-placed police box he shouldn’t have, and it was all downhill from there. And wait a minute, was Eric from the Cracked comments section in a movie? How did I miss that?!? Also, Cranston’s a Highlander? Great, he probably headbutted Jock into oblivion, didn’t he? Stupid There Can Only Be One rule.

    Hmm, I wonder what made Blu Catt so mad. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t like you panning Aristocats, but I’ll just have to wait and see for Cat Month to climax. Great review as always, Mouse!

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