Disney’s “The Aristocats” (1970) Review

Image: Disney, Wikipedia

SIGH… Let’s put this cat back in the bag.

PLOT –

A rich woman leaves her wealth and her possessions to her cats in her will. When her greedy butler steals them away and loses them, it’s up to the cats to get back home before he gets away with it!

I could elaborate on the plot, but that’s literally it. This film jumps through so many hoops to justify the plot… There are so many time-wasting and unnecessary events in the film, and there are several chase scenes that just go nowhere. This could have been half the length and still just as coherent, if not better.

My PLOT RATING is 2 / 5.

CHARACTERS –

I must say first of all, this film has a great cast, but boy, what wasted talent we have here!

Duchess (Eva Gabor) has her head in the clouds, but then again, who else could play that role. Every line is dreamy and half there, and while she gets better line delivery later on in the film, it doesn’t help much.

Jay Pat O’Malley (Phil Harris) is one of the few best characters in the film. He’s a more suave Baloo with more responsibility and more cunning. There is an element missing to his voice that made him more fun, but he’s pretty good, if not the best part, in this.

The three cat kids (or, you know, kittens), Marie (Liz English), Toulouse (Gary Dubin), and Berlioz (Dean Clark), are cute. They don’t have much character, other than to be cute or be in danger. Marie is actually pretty popular in Japan, and even has her own manga (comic).

Scat Cat (Scatman Crothers) and his band (Chinese Cat – Paul Winchell, English Cat – Lord Tim Hudson, Vito Scotti – Italian Cat, Thurl Ravenscroft – Russian Cat) are a whole bunch of racial stereotypes, yet, aside from Chinese Cat, they aren’t that bad. They all have the best song in the film, and therefore, the best scene in the film.

Several side characters include Uncle Waldo (Bill Thompson), a drunk goose, Napoleon (Pat Buttram) and Lafayette (George Lindsey), two dogs that are just there for padding, and Abigail (Monica Evans) and Amelia (Carole Shelley), two of the most unhelpful geese in the world. Roquefort the mouse (Sterling Holloway) and Frou-Frou the horse (Nancy Kulp) are two of the most notable here, and Roquefort is just the best. He truly cares about the cats, and he’s adorable in that little hat and coat.

Madame (Hermione Baddeley) and Georges (Charles Lane) are the few human characters, Georges being quite funny and full of slapstick, but again, this is not necessary to the plot or his character function at all. Madame is mostly a sympathy character for the audience, not doing that much to contribute.

Edgar (Roddy Maude-Roxby) is quite possibly the worst villain Disney has to offer. He isn’t even funny, and comes off as stupid, with no malice at all. He has the least thought-out plans, even having to waste time and backtrack to retrieve evidence (even though it doesn’t matter anyways in the end). It’s almost sad, really, how he’s defeated.

My CHARACTERS RATING is 2 / 5.

DIALOGUE –

The dialogue here is mostly passable, yet with no memorable lines or moments to speak of. Lines are also read awkwardly here and there at times, and the voice cast just barely saves it.

DIALOGUE RATING is 2 / 5.

EFFECTS –

The animation is at its worst here. It’s incredibly scratchy (the human characters are just as scratchy as the animals), and the only things I like about the visuals are some character designs and backgrounds here and there. There is one scene where a river moves and I thought, ‘That looks good’.

My EFFECTS RATING is 2 / 5.

MUSIC –

The music is the best part of the film, though it is not infallible. George Bruns, once again, does a great job with the score here. There are few lyrical songs in the film, and around half of them are good.

“The Aristocats” – Very French and sets the tone well. They actually brought Maurice Chevalier out of retirement to do this song, and he does a good job here.

“Scales and Arpeggios” – Really annoying, and the singer doesn’t even sound like Eva Gabor.

“Thomas O’Malley Cat” – A chill, strolling song. Not that memorable though, sadly, even though Phil Harris sings it.

“Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” – The reason anyone remembers this film. Scatman Crothers and the rest of the cast resurrect the music in this film, and it’s awesome and jazzy with a weird interlude for a children’s film. It also has a reprise at the end that’s more of the same with all of the characters joining in.

My MUSIC RATING is 3 / 5.

OVERALL –

I don’t even remember watching this film. Even a day later as I write this, I’ve had to fact check songs and plot elements. This film is the white bread of the Disney Animated Canon. Bland, unmemorable, and safe. The plot is paper thin, the characters are all one-offs or forgettable, the dialogue is passable, the effects are what we’ve seen before or worse, and the music has one memorable song.

The saddest thing about this movie is the supposed cause for its mediocrity:

Image: Disney, Wikipedia.org

After this, I’ll have no more production photos of Walt.

If only he had lived to turn this film around…

If only…

My OVERALL RATING for Disney’s The Aristocats is 44%.

Next time, we’ll go over one of my Top 10 Favorite Disney Films.

Stay tuned!

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