1 item from 1997
14 February 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Darn disappointing, Disney's lackluster remake of 1965's "That Darn Cat!" features Christina Ricci ("Casper") in the Hayley Mills role, while venerable Dean Jones ("The Shaggy D.A".) appears as a supporting character. Some basic elements of the story line have remained, but the new film's family-oriented humor is even more stilted and tame than the original.
British TV director Bob Spiers' feature debut has a few rewarding moments, but its target audience of kids and cat lovers will not be generating strong word-of-mouth. "That Darn Cat" is based on the novel "Undercover Cat" by the Gordons and their screenplay of the first film, co-written by Bill Walsh.
Besides veterans Jones and Estelle Parsons, the movie's eclectic cast includes Peter Boyle, Bess Armstrong, Dyan Cannon and Michael McKean in a very silly tale of a feline informant and nutty New Englanders on both sides of the law.
Alas, 1997's "That Darn Cat" is light years away from the original's drive-ins, muscle cars and mainstream mid-'60s comedy, not to mention the cast that included William Demarest, Elsa Lanchester, Frank Gorshin and Neville Brand.
No one performer is at fault, certainly not Doug E. Doug, who tries hard as a twitchy, manic FBI agent to make this cinematic fleabag come to life. But Ricci has little to do with her underwritten character, and a subplot involving a lonely butcher (Megan Cavanaugh) and two gung-ho security guards (Tom Wilson, Brian Haley) is mildly amusing at best.
Darn Cat, or "D.C". as his mistress Patti (Ricci) calls the gray beast, pussyfoots around the neighborhood one night and finds the kidnapped maid of the Flints (Jones, Cannon), obnoxious millionaires reluctant to pay the hefty ransom. The ridiculous scenario has the FBI becoming involved in a nocturnal tracking of D.C. by several agents.
George Dzundza plays the cranky boss of Doug's character, who goes through many humiliating experiences before making the cat angle payoff. Boyle and Rebecca Schull are unimpressive as an aging couple who play a major role in the overblown climax.
Just as in Robert Stevenson's version, which featured a Siamese, the lead feline is never quite made as endearing as one expects, with the attention focused on the humans and their mundane conflicts.
THAT DARN CAT
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Walt Disney Pictures
Director Bob Spiers
Producer Robert Simonds
Writers S.M. Alexander, L.A. Karaszewski
Executive producer Andrew Gottlieb
Director of photography Jerzy Zielinski
Production designer Jonathan Carlson
Editor Roger Barton
Costume designer Marie France
Music Richard Kendall Gibbs
Casting Gary Zuckerbrod
Patti Christina Ricci
Zeke Doug E. Doug
Mr. Flint Dean Jones
Boetticher George Dzundza
Pa Peter Boyle
Peter Michael McKean
Judy Bess Armstrong
Running time -- 89 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
1 item from 1997
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