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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 26: "The Aristocats"

(Originally published on 7/1/22)


The Aristocats

Run time: 78 min.

Release Date: December 24, 1970.

Where/when I first saw it: Arlington Theater, 1981

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Friday evening

You definitely get a sense that something is a bit off on this one when looked at in the context of the first post-Walt Disney animated film. The story and characters feel a bit warmed over from :Lady and the Tramp.” The animation is decent, but looks a bit unfinished in spots. The vocal casting might have been different if Walt had a say, particularly Thomas O’Malley (Phil Harris). The villain doesn’t seem very imaginative. When viewed after everything else, you do get the sense of a studio trying their best to forge ahead, luckily with some of the mainstays still around to create something that feels authentic to the Disney brand at that time, like the Sherman Brothers in the songwriting roles. That’s where the movie comes alive.

That being said, though, I still enjoy “The Aristocats,” perhaps because I’m a cat person and maybe that helps. This is, by no means, a chore to sit through. The story has its fair share of peril, music and laughs and it never overstays its welcome. The stand-out number remains “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat,” which shows the animators getting to play with colors as the jazzy energy feels like a welcome relief from all the delicate and French-y stuff at the beginning. It’s meant to get the audience's toes tapping and it works.

There’s not a whole lot else to say about it, except that it shows the studio can at least function without its founder and father. The success of the film must have felt particularly gratifying and given the artists and writers fuel to move ahead. “The Aristocats” plays it safe in the story and character department, for sure, but maybe working from a formula was what was needed at the time. Some of Walt’s spirit did rub off on this one, here and there, and it’s still interesting to watch everyone give it their best shot.


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