Top Cat is one of my favourite Hanna-Barbera characters and one of their most iconic, and 'Top Cat' the show was a childhood favourite and still is one of Hanna-Barbera's jewels. Mainly for the witty and very funny humour, its simplicity, the irresistible theme tune, the characters and the voice acting.
So expectations were high somewhat for 'Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats', even with the knowledge that it was basically a made for TV film/special made on a low budget. Expectations that weren't really met but with enough redeeming merits to make a one-time worthwhile watch. It's not among the best of the "Superstars 10" series, a collection of specials/films made during the late 80s featuring Hanna-Barbera stars like Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Huckleberry Hound. It's also not one of the worst.
'Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats' has a number of strengths. The animation is vibrantly colourful and crisply detailed, not exactly true to the show's animation style but for something not made on a high budget this was pretty good. Most of the energy has a lot of character and energy and fits dynamically. Wonderful to hear a jazzy instrumental version of the theme tune, you really cannot from personal view have a film/special of Top Cat without the theme tune.
Some of the writing entertains, with some amusing wisecracks and in the parts where 'Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats' humour adheres to the style of the original show. Top Cat and the gang are still so much fun to watch and mostly true to personality and the voice acting is very good, it was a masterstroke to bring Arnold Stang back to voice Top Cat and those not the original voice actors are worthy imitators in a good way.
However, too much of the story is pretty weak. It is mostly an episode from the show ("The Missing Heir") extended to feature length. Unfortunately to pad things out 'Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats' is full of scenes that drag on endlessly and scenes and characters that serve no point to the proceedings at all (for example Kitty could have been completely omitted and you wouldn't miss a thing). The clichéd "get rid of the heir" story just complicates things and makes the story feel muddled.
While some of the writing is fine and reminds one nostalgically of the TV show, there are some very out of place and firmly stuck in the 80s culture references, cringe-worthy puns and such that juxtaposed far too much with the parts that had humour that were in the style of the show. Most of the music was fine, but the rapping was assault to the ears and eyes, there may be some bias coming from someone who usually cannot stand rap.
Overall, not bad, with some fun and nostalgia and a great opportunity to see characters one loves, but just so-so due to the weak story, pacing and scenes, humour and characters that added no point and didn't belong. For a show and character as great as Top Cat he deserved better. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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