[Last Film I Saw] The AristoCats (1970)

the.Aristocats

Title: The AristoCats
Year: 1970
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Musical
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Writers:
Larry Clemmons
Vance Gerry
Ken Anderson
Frank Thomas
Eric Cleworth
Julius Svendsen
Ralph Wright
Tom McGowan
Tom Rowe
Cast:
Phil Harris
Eva Gabor
Sterling Holloway
Dean Clark
Liz English
Gary Dubin
Nancy Kulp
Roddy Maude-Roxby
Pat Buttram
Scatman Crothers
George Lindsey
Monica Evans
Carole Shelley
Charles Lane
Hermione Baddeley
Bill Thompson
Rating: 7.0/10

A Paris-setting Disney traditional animation from 1970, THE ARISTOCATS does present a foreign-looking style of a 2-dimensional continental outlook and tell us a not-so-adventurous little vignette of a fairytale, a personification of animals (cats, dogs, a rat, a horse and geese), the story is about a gentrified quartet of pet cats (a mother with her three offering), who are outcast into the wild by a reprobate butler since they are in his way to inheritance of a wealthy Madame (the pets’ owner). Soon they will meet their alleycat counterpart, a very gentleman-like one (male, of course), they enjoy a stint of adventures and a great big band revelry, then return home and sabotage the butler’s scheme, easy and simple.

Running within a succinct 78 minutes, this animation epitomises nearly every trademark of Disney, a children-prone narrative, an illuminating storyline, adorably main characters with quirky sidekicks, cartoony villains and most significantly an unerringly happy ending. But what’s more conspicuous in this Walt Disney’s last output is the music renditions, French chanson led by Maurice Chevalier’s title song from the opening credits, marches with classical-adaptive show tunes and bookends with a Jazz-infused razzle-dazzle, all is done in nifty set pieces and nimble workmanship. Also the benign caricatures of bourgeois French (for example, the mother cat keeps claiming they’re more than pets to their Madame, who will be totally alone in the world without them, although it may be the truth, but her tone of snobbish does niggle me quite a bit) and gormless British (the twin geese and their uncle) are simultaneously entertaining and cringeworthy.

The voice cast is mellifluously solid, my own pick is Scatman Holloway’s Scat Cat (a reincarnation and tribute of Louis Armstrong), while the action sequences between the butler and the two bandit dogs (Napoleon and Lafayette) are the high moment of the film, idiotic, yes, but masterfully concocted and slickly edited nonetheless, which nowadays has been substituted by grandiose spectacles in the mainstream animation branch.

So, for me ruefully it has been too late to watch this film for the first time at my awkward adult age, it is pure fun but the aftertaste is also fun-sized, no soul-searching commentary could be extracted, after all, it is a bona fide Disney fare, it you dig the franchise, for sure you will like it.

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