(Air Date: Week Of 03/26/97)
Talented but naive song-and-dance cat from Kokomo storms Hollywood in order to break the species barrier that's kept animals from taking their rightful place as headliners in the movie biz. Thus begins the animated musical "Cats Don't Dance", brought to you by the same fine studio, Warner Brothers, that gave us Bugs Bunny. True to that spirit, it's full of the same sort of subtlely subversive hijinks that made the rabbit so great.
The hero this time, though, is Danny, a sweet feline with the engagingly earnest voice of Scott Bakula. He arrives in Hollywood, circa 1939, with a todo list in hand that reads Tuesday, find agent, Friday, become big star. Oddly enough, Danny does land an agent on schedule, and a bit part in L.B. Mammoth's latest musical extravaganza starring America's sweetheart and merchandising queen, Darla Dimple. Danny's part consists of one word, "Meow", but he makes the most of it, accidentally upstaging Darla. Not a good idea. Darla may look like Shirely Temple, but beneath that pinafore beats the heart of Mussonlini. Thanks to her machinations, Danny and his friends are banned from the lot with the ominous words, "You'll never eat kibble in this town again." But never fear, Danny and his friends aren't about to let this dream die, Darla Dimple be darned.
The plot is fairy-tale simple with the usual heros, villains, buffoons, and a never gloppy love story, thrown in for good measure, but the the characters are well-written and, most important, fun to watch. Darla's attendant is a Frankenstein/Schwarzenegger hybrid doing Max the butler from Sunset Blvd with just a whiff of whimsey. The studio's pachyderm mascot serves tea while ruminating on the etymology of the word peanut. The dialogue is snappy, the sight gags fly fast and furious, the production numbers are splashy, and the cameos are by W.C. Fields and Clark Gable, among others. Ain't animation terrific? And this animation looks great, using the old Warner's toon style, but spiffing it up to look almost 3-D.
"Cats Don't Dance" is a great popcorn flick. It's sweet, but not enough to make your teeth ache and even if the kids don't get all the references, there are still enough laughs to keep everyone amused.
Copyright 1997 Andrea Chase
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