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The Aristocats
1970 - G - 78 Mins.
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Producer: Winston Hibler, Wolfgang Reitherman
Written By: Ken Anderson
Starring: Eva Gabor, Phil Harris, Liz English
Review by: Joe Jarvis
   

Drunken geese in hats and bonnets, the possible reason for the crumbling of society...
A problem most family films get themselves into is that they don't seem to have enough for the adults as they do for children. Fortunately, Disney films have something that an adult audience will enjoy. However, I must add that there are a few exceptions. One of these is "The Aristocats", which will surely be a decent baby-sitter but for a mature audience will feel a bit blah.

"The Aristocats" was made in the so-called "dark ages" of Disney animation between "The Jungle Book" in 1967 and "The Little Mermaid" in 1989. Walt had passed away in the sixties and it took until the late eighties for the Disney Company to make their films seem "magical" again. Some of the films made within this time period, such as "Robin Hood" are underrated gems and don't deserve to be called a poor product, but "The Aristocats" backs this statement up, as it lacks the majesty of old classics like "Alice in Wonderland", "Pinocchio" and "Snow White" and of contemporary favourites such as "The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin" and "Beauty and the Beast".

Firstly, the film is too long. Clocking in at around 80 minutes, the plot seems too stretched for what it is. The plot is a mite unoriginal, appearing as a hybrid between "101 Dalmatians" and "Lady and the Tramp", with a pampered cat named Duchess and her equally indulged kittens being kidnapped by an evil butler named Edgar (a weak villain, I must add) only to be found by a stray cat named O'Malley. This has all happened around a third of the way into the movie, and for the next two thirds, the plot branches off into an episodic structure where each event seems to appear like an excuse for a musical number, thus causing the film to drag. The only thing that really pastes the whole film together by this point is a star crossed love story (where the "Lady and the Tramp" aspect of story comes in), but even this seems a very thin glue.

The animation is far worse than the structure. From what I've read, I understand that the animation department was trying to cut costs at the time, but although I wanted to bare this in mind, I find this case just laughable. Animation is reused throughout the film (a cardinal sin that Disney did in the seventies) and most of it doesn't look cleaned up from sketch to linear form; the animation of the characters (especially the humans) is so sketchy, one could mistake the characters to just look like a blob of ink and paint. Such poor animation reminds the audience that they're watching nothing but a cartoon, something an animated film should try to avoid, as it takes the magic out of animation.

I wouldn't say that "The Aristocats" is a total dud, however. It certainly has bits of charm through its opening title song and it does have some nice backgrounds with a whimsical Parisian feel, but it just doesn't make the grade.

Kids will love "The Aristocats", as I know I personally did in the days of my youth, but upon watching it recently as I've began to become a Disney enthusiast again, I just couldn't click with it. I'm upgrading some of my Disney video collection to DVD at the moment, but I think I'll skip "The Aristocats" in the upgrading process.

 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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