Bonjour! Today, we have an underrated Disney classic. If The Aristocats were the first Disney movie I had seen, I would probably think it was genius. As it is, I’m very fond of this movie, but much of the time, it really does seem like 101 Dalmatians + Lady and the Tramp + Cats. It’s still adorable and a lot of fun, but I definitely get deja vu while watching it.
The characters–cat, human, or otherwise–are really the best part of the movie. It helps that we have some awesome voice actors to make them come to life. Eva Gabor is Duchess, who is basically Lady, but a little more grown-up. Phil Harris, whom we’ve already heard as Baloo, is Thomas O’Malley, the Tramp-esque alley cat who has to curb his committment-phobic, wanderlusting ways in order to win the heart of his fair lady. And, lest you think I’d forget, Sterling Holloway shows up as Roquefort the mouse. And then we have the kittens! Toulouse (he’s a painter, of course), Berlioz (he’s a musician, of course), and Marie (she’s a…girl) are so, so cute. Marie is my personal favorite, because she has lines like, “ladies don’t start fights, but they can finish them.” (Though, I do find it annoying that she’s always the one who’s in peril and needs to be rescued during their journey. Couldn’t it have been one of her brothers who fell out of the truck or off of the bridge?)
These are, for the most part, the more important characters, but there are minor ones who pop up, and they’re all delightful–particularly Georges, the lawyer, who was just the FUNNIEST EVER when I was little and easily amused. And I can’t leave out Abigail and Amelia Gabble, sister geese (voiced by the Pigeon sisters from The Odd Couple), and their inebriated uncle. Do they add a lot to the plot? Not really, but they’re lots of fun.
That brings us to Edgar, the villain of the movie. He’s not all that villainous. Actually, kitty-napping aside, I feel kind of bad for him. I mean, it would suck to find out that you would inhert lots of money if it weren’t for a bunch of cats. What on earth are cats going to do with all that money? Also, he has the best facial expressions. I don’t condone abandoning kitties in the French wilderness, but as far as Disney villains go, Edgar isn’t that bad at all.
Plot-wise…ehhhh, you’ve done better, Disney. Like I said, it’s like we’re rehashing 101 Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp. The romance between Duchess and Thomas is sweet, but it’s been done. She loves her human family and wants to get back home; he’s distrustful of humans and wants to go off into the world; she teaches him that it’s cool to be domesticated, and they all settle down happily ever after. I could really be talking about either movie.
I do like the music, though. Maurice Chevalier sings the opening song, and it sets the tone perfectly. The highlight, and the most well-known song from the movie, is “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat.” Kind of like “I Wanna Be Like You,” this song is kinda jazzy and fun, and…well, it’s an Unfortunate Racist Moment. Oh, Disney, when you ethnically coded the dogs and cats in Lady and the Tramp, I didn’t say anything, because that movie is so close to my heart, but you really need to stop doing this. It’s getting embarrassing. (But it’s still an awesome song.)
And that’s all I’ve got, because while I always like this movie while I’m watching it, I tend to forget details afterwards. It kind of feels like filler in the Disney canon, but it’s really entertaining filler. C’est tout.
Favorite moment: Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat
Because…it’s the best and most memorable part of the movie. I think that’s just a fact, though the geese are a close second.
Next time: Robin Hood!!!