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1 item from 1997

Film review: 'That Darn Cat'

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.


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


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1 item from 1997

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