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The Aristocats

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Aristocats

Starring: Phil Harris, Sterling Holloway
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Rated: G
RunTime: 79 Minutes
Release Date: April 1970
Genres: Animation, Kids

*Also starring: Bill Thompson, Hermione Baddeley, Roddy Maude-Roxby, Scatman Crothers, Paul Winchell, Lord Tim Hudson, Vito Scotti, Thurl Ravenscroft, Nancy Kulp

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

THE ARISTOCATS (1970) is a Disney animated film by director Wolfgang Reitherman. Reitherman was an animator on a lot of the classic Disney films (FANTASIA, DUMBO, and LADY AND THE TRAMP among others). THE ARISTOCATS was written by a host of writers (Kenneth Anderson, Larry Clemmons, Eric Cleworth, Vance Gerry, Julius Svendsen, Frank Thomas, and Ralph Wright) based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe that tells of a family of Parisian felines: mother Duchess (voice of Eva Gabor) and her three little ones, Berloiz (voice of Dean Clark), Toulouse (voice of Gary Dubin), and Marie (voice of Liz English).

The plot of the movie is quite simple. The cats live in a Parisian mansion owned by Madame Adelaide Bonfamille (voice of Hermione Baddeley). The cats try to become sophisticated aristocrats like their owner, so they study painting, piano, and singing. Madame Adelaide Bonfamille's butler Edgar (voice of Roddy Maude-Roxey) thinks he will inherit when the old woman dies, but then he comes to believe that she has left everything to her cats, so he abducts the cats and takes them far away where they can never be able to return.

Once far away in the country they are befriended by a smart alley cat named Thomas O'Malley (voice of Phil Harris). They are also aided by a host of other animals including, but not limited to, two redneck dogs named Lafayette (voice of George Lindsey) and Napoleon (voice of Pat Buttram), two silly geese named Abigail Gabble (voice of Monica Evans) and Amelia Gabble (voice of Carole Shelley), and a sweet little mouse named Roquefort (voice of Sterling Holloway from MY FAIR LADY).

The film is a musical, but the numbers, while pleasant enough, are not at all memorable. The dialog has few good lines and these typically come from the sage O'Malley. He is down on humans as a species reflecting, "Humans don't really worry too much about their pets."

The animation is not up to the Disney standards of today, but does have interest. The characters are animated against a flat background without realistic lighting. This is not a problem since the backdrops are artistic ones as befits a movie set in and near Paris. There are several nice visuals. My favorites is when the geese tell the cats to "think goose" and force them to all waddle like geese in a line behind them. Having cats waddling like geese is a sight gag that works.

The other part of the movie is a love story between O'Malley and Duchess. This is sweet and low key. The ending is full of the psychedelic images from the late 60s when the film was made. Most of the score (George Bruns), on the other hand, is actually upbeat jazz music.

THE ARISTOCATS runs just 1:18. It is rated G, and there is nothing to offend or scare anyone of any age. Although this is a pleasant little film, it is never compelling. Nice safe homogenous entertainment. A safe choice at the video store if not a very involving one. Although my son Jeffrey (age 7) liked it when he saw it for the first time tonight, I can not quite bring myself to recommend it. I do give it ** for its pleasantries.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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