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I have an extremely open mind when it comes to Hollywood remaking,
revisiting, creating a sequel to, or otherwise building upon an
film. Consider that mind slammed firmly shut!
The original "Darn Cat" featured a precocious feline surrounded by a village of humans (some funny, some scary, some just plain annoying). But the cat always remained at the center of the story, and the cat's actions are what propelled the whole thing forward. But here, the focus is on Patty Randall (Christina Ricci) and her FBI-rookie pal, Zeke Kelso (Doug E. Doug).
Apparently, the producers knew that they had an up-and-coming young starlet in their midst when they created this litter-box, because the focus is moved away from D.C. and onto Ricci's bratty and generally unlikeable Patty Randall. While no producer can be blamed for seeing talent and grabbing it (Two "Addams Family" films and "Casper the Friendly Ghost" had already gotten Ricci significant exposure!), they forgot that the film's title is "That Darn Cat"... not "That Darn Pat".
And it shows. We still have a minor league all-star cast, and we still have the FBI agent, the young girl and her cat as the heroes of the piece, but we cannot even see the villains (who provided so much of the menace in the original) and we see entirely too much of the assortment of freaks, geeks and throwaway nutcases that populate this burg.
I submit a challenge: Watch this one, then go back and watch the original. Then TRY to remember something significant that the cat in the new version did.
See, you're learning!
I guess there are two ways to make a movie with kids as the intended audience. You can either say to yourself a) "Let's make a movie that kids today will love!" or b) "Let's make a movie that I would have loved when I was a kid!" The second approach explains why Steven Spielberg often make movies that appeal to a younger audience. Prime examples are E.T., The Goonies or Indiana Jones. That Darn Cat is an example of the first approach. You see these flat, unbelievable characters saying things that is supposed to be funny but isn't. The plot itself is enough for a ten minute short, but instead it goes on and on. And although I'm not a kid, I don't quite understand what in this movie is supposed to be fun for kids? The clumsy cops chased by a dog, the old lady with a tweety bird or Christina Ricci's sarcastic oneliners? One actor showed a spark of talent with his very acrobatic humour: Doug E. Doug playing the FBI agent.
"That Darn Cat" is a makeover of the Disney film with Haley Mills. This time
around, the world is darker, the main character is darker...and the cat is
Christina ("Addams Family," "Sleepy Hollow") Ricci is the main character for our story. She's a psychopathic, Gothic creature with black all around. She moves to a new town, finds a new cat, finds a new mystery, and solves it (I wasn't expecting that). Along the way is Thomas F. Wilson, better known as Biff from "Back to the Future," and Michael McKean--who does a bunch of nothing considering how funny the guy usually is.
"That Darn Cat" fails on a lot of levels. It's watchable, and probably should be seen once on TV, but I wouldn't go out of your way to see it.
Christina Ricci is fine as the title character; but I found that the whole moody, Gothic thing was a bit overdone--whether it was on the script like that or not, it was overbearing. They kept stressing to the audience, "This girl is dark," but I think I got it the first time.
Dean Jones, from the original "That Darn Cat," makes a few cameos in this flick. Whatever happened to him? The last I remember him in a film without being a cameo was "Beethoven"...
Thomas F. Wilson does seem to prove he can act out characters other than Biff, Griff and Buford Tannen, but if I were him I wouldn't quit the day job just yet--a film like this isn't going to get him back in the acting arena.
The film's gags don't exactly work all the time. Sometimes they work a little bit, but on the whole, this film is a pretty big mess that should only be seen on television when nothing good is on.
2/5 stars -
P.S.--Be on the lookout for cameos galore, including "Cheers" man John Ratzenburger.
I was 12 years old when I saw the original film (I lived in Italy and the Italian title was "FBI, OPERATION CAT!") That was a fun film and not just for kids. This awful remake it's pathetic even for a 5 year old! What possessed Disney to ruin their reputation and the memory of a lovely film I don't know and I just can't believe it. Even the title song in the original film (both original version and the dubbed Italian version) was extremely nice and creating the mood for the story. On this remake the title song is even worst than the movie itself. It was just nice to see Dean Jones even if for just a cameo appearance, he was a regular on the great old Disney's films. I cannot honestly see anything else positive in this remade movie.
They made this movie modern, but they also made it more realistic! I am
soooo sick of this "Reality TV" era. People seem to have forgotten that
fantasy and exercising the imagination are the original reasons for and
very fabric of entertainment movies. For example, in the original,
Randall and her older sister, Ingrid, were living alone at their house
their parents were traveling in Europe. The character of Ingrid was not
in this movie. Part of the fun of the original was that Ingrid Randall and
Zeke Kelso were starting to fall in love. Their parents never called their
daughters or anything. In real life, few parents would actually stay away
that long at once, and even if they did, they would keep closer tabs on
their girls. In the new version, Patricia Randall is an only child and her
parents happen to be out of the house or just unaware of what is
Who cares whether or not it would happen in real life? That was the
point to making movies like that Darn Cat; so that people would get to see
things happen the way that they WANT them to happen, not the way that they
actually do happen. Christina Ricci also degraded the precocious but sweet
character that Hayley Mills originated. Of course, the decay and crudity
the modern world had to be embedded into this movie that was assumed to be
like the original; safe and fun for all ages! It was nice to see Dean
in the movie, but that is just about the only positive thing I can think
about this version. On top of everything else, the original version
immortalized D.C. as a SIAMESE cat(No other kind of cat should have been
used), and the rocky title song of this movie was JUNK! It was not at all
worthy to be compared to the soothing, orchestrated title song in the
original, written by Richard and Robert Sherman, the composers of music
many other Disney classics (e.g. The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins),and sung
beautifully by Bobby Darin. What is wrong with today's producers? Do they
not want their children to enjoy the same harmless but fun entertainment
that helped make their own childhoods memorable? It is a good thing that
classics are being re-released on video and DVD because right now, the
seems to be the only place to find true family entertainment.
But I still enjoyed watching her, so I gave it a 3 instead of a 1. Her expressions are priceless. Some of the other cast members (e.g., Michael McKean) are really slumming, too. The cat himself is somewhat amusing. Aside from that, the movie is all cliche, culminating in a much-too-long car chase. (It's also at this point that the movie becomes unnecessarily crude, having been very "family" until then.)
I don't suppose I'm still a part of their target group,
but I am complete Christina Ricci target group on my own! That was pretty
much the only reason for me to see this film, since I'm not that interested
in a cat s adventures
The film is a remake of a 1965 film with the same
name, also produced by the Disney Studio's. Christina is an angry and
introvert teenage girl Patti - who's loathes the boring, little town
she's living in. Her mother is vain and super-polite, she has no friends and
the only one she feels some affection for is her cat, J.D. This cat
`witnesses' a kidnapping during one of her nightly escapades and Patti
alarms the goofy FBI Agent Zeke (Doug E. Doug).
The film causes a surprisingly big amount of chuckles, since the little town and its inhabitants are so wondrously stereotypical. The grand finale which involves a boisterous car chase through the town will certainly impress and please the younger viewers. Some overall good acting as well. First and foremost by the lovely Christina Ricci, but also by a few familiar and respected side characters like George Dzundza (Basic Instinct), Peter Boyle (F.I.S.T) and Michael McKean (Airheads) Doug E. Doug simply has to act like a Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock clone but he's pretty good in doing so. That Darn Cat is warmly recommend fun for young families and animal lovers.
Chris Ricci sleepwalks her way through most of this, but then quickly
takes on an air of boredom and disdain - much as I did when watching
it. Without her this would be no more than a cheap kids' movie, but at
least she does add an air of quality. There are few, if any, more
visually striking and charismatic young actresses in the business.
There's not much wrong with it as long as you accept it for what it is - a cheap Disney re-make aimed at very undemanding children. I could watch Ricci all day so I'm probably oblivious to many of the movie's shortcomings, but unless you too are a Ricci fan, a cat-lover, or very small child, I doubt you will find this very entertaining.
The Disney studios' remake of their own 1965 slapstick classic concerns
a clever feline leading an F.B.I. agent to a kidnapped woman. Christina
Ricci gives a churlish, let-me-outta-here performance as the cat's
owner and the fed is played by Doug E. Doug, embarrassingly
over-the-top, like a human cartoon. A pair of rich neurotics (Dyan
Cannon and original "Cat" cast member Dean Jones) are funny and the
formula-plot still has a little juice left in it, but the handling here
is so heavy and lugubrious, and the cat is so lifeless, that it's
* from ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First off, what people don't realize in this film is that it is an attempt by Disney to create an art flick that represents many television shows that were popular when the original movie came out. For instance, the reference to Monte Carlo is pointing to Herbie goes Bananas, in which the same car that the criminals in That Darn Cat was used in Monte Carlo. Also, the scene where the car jumps over the police car is a reference to the Dukes of Hazard county, who like to jump over Boss Hoggs (another rent-a-cop with a butch). These are but two of many references to old television shows and movies that Disney sought to represent in this underrated piece. Too bad they aimed at the wrong target audience. It has gone the way of Cabin Fever.
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