The Aristocats Review

The Aristocats

The 1970s were a rough decade for Disney’s animation output.  Following the death of Walt Disney in the late 60s, the next several years saw the studio at a loss of direction, with most of their animation output becoming pretty forgettable (with a couple exceptions) until the release of The Little Mermaid in 1989. The first of the 1970s lot was The Aristocats which, while not without some fun moments, feels all the more like a product of its rough time today.

The Aristocats tells the story of a family of cats who belong to a wealthy, retired opera diva. The mother cat is Duchess, and her three kittens are named Marie, Berlioz and Toulouse. After their wealthy owner prepares her will, wishing to leave her fortune to her cats, her conniving butler, Edgar, seeks to get rid of the cats so he can inherit the fortune himself.

The AristocatsEdgar gives the cats some sleeping pills and plans to abandon them out of town. He’s stopped midway by a pair of dogs, but by this point the cats are far away from home and lost. Duchess and her kittens later meet up with an alley cat named Thomas O’Malley, who serves as their guide in their adventure to find their way back home.

The plot is simple, and not entirely original, feeling like something of a retread of Lady and the Tramp but with cats instead of dogs. It also lacks the more timeless charm of Lady and the Tramp, with the characters here feeling stereotyped in both gender and race (the less said of the Asian cat who plays piano with a pair of chopsticks, the better).

Animation-wise, The Aristocats continued Disney’s knack for appealing character designs and fluid movement, but it doesn’t catch the eye nearly as well as the studio’s better offerings. The songs are also a bit weak. Even the movie’s signature tune “Ev’rybody Wants to be a Cat,” while kind of fun, ends up feeling pretty unmemorable.

The AristocatsThe Aristocats still has its good points, with the main characters being cute and charming, and some fun action scenes and comedic moments. But today, it’s a bit difficult to recommend The Aristocats when compared to a good heft of the Disney canon. Kids might still find it entertaining, but it’s also easy to imagine them preferring most other Disney movies with better stories, songs and animation. Compared to a lot of Disney’s animations, The Aristocats feels a bit flat.

If you’re looking into Disney’s back catalogue, you could do worse than The Aristocats. But you could also do a whole lot better.

 

5

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Author: themancalledscott

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, the man called Scott is an ancient sorcerer from a long-forgotten realm. He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Or, you know, he could just be some guy who loves video games, animations and cinema who just wanted to write about such things.

4 thoughts on “The Aristocats Review”

  1. The seventies may have been an amazing decade for modern music, but, from what I’ve heard, it was quite a horrible time for animation – and not just for Disney. Apparently, the whole “animation is for kids” mentality manifested in this time period, not helped by parents wishing for the industry to exert tighter control over what they were allowed to show kids. This caused the quality of the medium to drop quite significantly.

    Then again, I’m not an animation expert, so my speculation may be a bit off.

    I’ve never actually seen this movie, but if what I heard about it is true, it certainly wasn’t a good start for Disney for that decade.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds about right. The 1970s were a rough time for animation. Disney was reduced to making lesser features (though I actually really enjoy Robin Hood, despite its obvious production limitations), and it was hard for anyone else to break into the field. Anyone who dared make something more adult was basically vilified, and things just fell apart.

      Thankfully, in 1979 in Japan, a little movie called Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro was released. It launched the directing career of Hayao Miyazaki, had a profound influence on Disney (and subsequently, Pixar), and that of course ended up helping the industry as a whole. Leading to the gems of the 1980s, the new heights reached in the 90s, and the artistically rich animated films we see today.

      For an animation fan like me, it can sometimes be hard watching 70s animations. They just lack the heart.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not to mention that seventies animation often lacked animation. I heard this is when “limited animation” was used extensively. Compared to these days, it looks really lazy, doesn’t it?

        Western animation seemed to stumble in the mid-to-late 2000s as well. Luckily, it made a recovery and lead to this decade, which some have said is one of the strongest decades for the medium.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yeah, you can definitely tell there were cut corners in the 70s. No doubt.

        The 2000s weren’t a great time for western animation, sans for Pixar. But I would agree when people say this decade is one of animation’s best. Disney is back into their groove (I would argue better than ever), Pixar had a rough couple of years but now are back on track, and we’ve seen a surprising number of smaller studios from all over the world release greats like The Illusionist, Secret of Kells, and Song of the Sea. We may also have had the last few masterpieces to come from Studio Ghibli (though I’m hoping they don’t close up shop, that would be unspeakably tragic). Even Dreamworks is giving more honest efforts at storytelling when they want to.
        Things are looking up.

        Liked by 1 person

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