Friday, April 14, 2017
Cats Don't Dance (1997)
Plot: set in 1939, Danny is an optimistic cat who dreams of Holywood stardom and so travels there in hopes of starting a career. He gets a role in a movie but is bummed to find out that it's a minor role and that animals are not allowed to play in large roles. He tries to weasel his way into a bigger role only to anger a spoiled, popular child actress named Darla Dimple her overly large Valet, Max. So he tries to band the other animals together and forge a plan to encourage humans to cast animals in main roles.
When I was a kid, I saw parts of this movie once when I was spending the weekend at my grandparent's house. I didn't get to finish it, but I liked it enough that I wanted to find out how it ends. It wasn't until about two months ago that I finally found it online and watched the whole thing. So how is it? It's...okay. Not bad, but nothing special either.
So what makes it just okay? Well...just about everything that isn't the protagonist and the villains specifically. The story is a little predictable structurally, but the concept of trying to prove that the animals can perform like humans is a cute idea. The songs are nothing memorable, but they're serviceable whenever they're on. The supporting characters are a mix between sort of memorable and at the same time not really. While I do remember some of them like the Tillie Hippo and Sawyer, (by the way, is it me or does the voice actress for Sawyer, Jasmine Guy sound an awful lot like Scarlet Johansson?), they're nothing special apart from being merely acceptable in their roles.
With everything that's so 'okay' with the film, is there anything that's truly good? Well, the villains are surprisingly entertaining. Darla is this parody of Shirley Temple, and she's amusing to watch... though I could do without her wearing dresses where you can totally see her underwear...just no. But even she was nothing compared to her giant Valet, Max. I didn't think much of him as a kid, but he cracks me up as an adult. From his voice to his facial expressions to how much they go into how over-the-top big and powerful he is, he makes me laugh almost every time he's on screen. There are some scenes that are so funny that I replayed them multiple times.
Is there anything that is officially wrong with the film? Well, sadly Danny is by far the blandest thing in the whole film. While most of the characters are stereotypes in some way or another, they still had their own charm in some very small way. Danny, on the other hand, doesn't. Whenever he's on screen, I kept thinking "oh, here's the optimistic guy who has the answers and is gonna go on this journey where he doubts himself but is brought back by his friends to save the day " It may not have completely turned out that word by word, but a lot of the predictable moments in this film really comes from his story arc. If you like this kind of character regardless, fine, but if you've seen histype many times already, he doesn't really bring anything new.
And that's my review for Cats Don't Dance. The villains are funny, the hero is a bore, everything else is just passable. If you just feel like watching an animated film and don't care what it is, this is harmless. I'm glad I fully saw it, but I don't care to see it again.