Wow! What a fun movie! I love "Cats Don't Dance" with a passion. I found it so refreshing to see animation like this after such a long string of Disney films so bent on realism. Here, the animation is cartooney, way-overblown, and UNBELIEVABLY manic! The story is wonderfully carried out with anthropomorphic animal characters (something you don't often see in features), and the uplifting message is catching. It's very entertaining and very funny! I recommend you view "Cats Don't Dance" while feeling very energetic. Otherwise, it'll just make you tired. Probably not everybody's cup of tea, but it sure is MINE! An enthusiastic 10/10 stars!
P.S. Did you know that Scott Bakula can sing? He sure can!
Hollywood-it either makes or breaks you, sends some dreamers to the top, and others home. Can a little ambition go a long way?
Set in the late 1930s, "Cats Don't Dance" is about Danny (voice of Scott Bakula), a singing and dancing cat from Kokomo, who heads to Hollywood in search of a big break, complete with dreams, ambitions, and a song in his heart. He is immediately hired to play a part in "Lil Arc Angel," a picture starring Hollywood's most celebrated actress, Darla Dimple (Ashley Peldon/Lindsay Ridgeway), whom, beneath her sweetie-pie personality, is really a spoiled brat who hates animals and will do anythig to destroy their dreams. Danny decides to steal the show from Darla, who shows her true colors. When he approaches Darla for help in getting the animals a big break, Darla conjures up a plan to get them all blacklisted from movies. Can Danny prove that ambition can get them their dreams?
As a 19 year old, its not very common to like cutesy cartoons. However, this was something that would entertain anyone. Sure, the songs are corny, but the dance numbers are fun, and the singers really know their stuff. Scott Bakula, providing both the vocal and singing tracks for Danny, is energetic and fun, and he sings really well. Jasmine Guy and Natalie Cole, as Sawyer, is seductive and ambitious, just not willing to show it. The supporting animal cast, including Don Knotts as T.W. and Kathy Najimy as Tilly Hippo, are funny and smart. Kudos to Ashley Peldon and Lindsay Ridgeway, as Darla Dimple, who make her EXTREMELY evil, which I love.
Fave parts: The dancing scene in the alley, the "Lil Arc Angel" scene in the beginning, the part where Darla has Danny at her house, eating animal crackers and being sweetly evil, and the ending, which I won't give away. I liked the song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now". As for fave lines, I had a few. Max: What sound does the kitty cat make? Danny: (big fake grin)Meow??? Max: Gooood. This was also funny when the tables were turned. Scott Bakula doing all sorts of variations of Meow was classic too. Max cracked me up, hulking around scaring the animals. He even started to dance (one of the funniest moments).
This was a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good laugh, likes cartoons, or Scott Bakula. This is a charming film that encourages chasing your dreams, no matter how big they are. As T.W. said, "They can break your cookie, but you'll always have your fortune." Isn't that the stuff dreams are made of?
I remembered seeing Cats Don't Dance when I was 10, and really liking it. To this day, I still find it a mystery as to why I didn't see it again since, and I can't think of a convincing enough reason why other than I forgot about it. Then, I was reading some reviews by chance that were praising this film, and I decided I must give it another chance. Thank goodness for YouTube. And you know what, I am glad I did that, and now I am kicking myself for only seeing this film once in my childhood. Seriously I loved it, why it is so underrated I don't know.
I am also scratching my head on some of the aspects of the film critical reviews have picked up. Critics complained of dull characters, and others of forgettable songs. Now I will admit that Cats Don't Dance is surprisingly ambitious, but I cannot disagree more with the criticism that it has forgettable music. I thought it was wonderful, the incidental music itself was beautiful, but the songs were amazing and definitely memorable, from the wonderfully energetic end number, to the poignant one sung by Sawyer in the rain. Though special mention has to go to Big and Loud, where Lindsay Ridgeway did a spectacular job with the singing voice of the antagonist Darla Dimple.
And the characters certainly weren't dull. Danny is a very likable Gene Kelly-like protagonist, and Sawyer is lovely. And if you're looking for a character for comic relief, look to Flannigan especially. But the most memorable character is easily Darla, wonderfully voiced by Ashley Peldon. You could say Darla is like Shirley Temple's evil twin, she is very cute yet she is mighty mean too. Her bodyguard Max for some reason frightened me at the end when he was chasing Danny when I first saw Cats Don't Dance. The animation is colourful and detailed, and the voice cast is excellent. Other definite pros are in the surprisingly consistent and mature scripting, the inspired story, its constant sense of fun and the glamorous and irresistible choreography. All in all, despite the decent enough rating on IMDb(though I personally think it should be in the 7s) this is a very underrated and almost forgotten film. 10/10 Bethany Cox
"Cats Don't Dance" is an excellent animated film, and if you asked my three kids, they'd tell you it's one of their favorite movies ever! "Cats Don't Dance" can be enjoyed whether you're age 4 (close to my youngest child) or age 40 (close to me). The movie uses bright and crisp colors which make you pay attention---and you'll have to! "Cats" moves at a rapid pace. I'm always apprehensive when I hear about animated musicals because the songs usually stink. However, I think the songs and musical sequences in "Cats" are better than those in most Disney hit movies. [Darla Dimples's performance singing "Big And Loud" is an animated classic.] My kids sing "Cats" songs just for fun. They've seen the movie (by their own request) almost 20 times. By the way, I knew Natalie Cole was a good singer, but who knew that Scott Bakula was too? "Cats Don't Dance" has great dialogue (Danny and Sawyer at her job, the same two cats arguing while a disaster ensues, and Danny meeting with Darla Dimple at her home are among my favorite scenes. If characters are going to achieve a good and noble goal in a movie, there MUST be worthy foils trying to stop them. "Cats Don't Dance" has two of the best villians ever in Darla Dimple and her behemoth of a butler Max. Darla takes being two-faced to a whole new level. (Notice at least twice in the movie when the red bow on her head looks more like two horns) Max is so huge that he actually blocks out light! His laugh is chillingly amazing and Max the the BEST line of dialogue in the movie: "How does the kitty cat gooooooooooooooo? [Danny: 'Meow?'] "Very goooooooooood." Every character in this movie (most of whom are animals) are drawn exaggeratedly and that fits perfectly for the theme and tone of this movie. "Cats" is a funny, wild ride for children and adults. If you like animation and/or musicals and/or clever comedy, you'll love "Cats Don't Dance". It's a shame this great movie isn't more popular. Hopefully good word-of-mouth (and word-of-internet) will change that.
this movie is great-- i watched it when i was small, and i've loved it ever since! my favorite characters are Danny and sawyer... i just thought Danny was so cute and the sparks between Danny and sawyer were adorable!!! well, i guess my real favorite character would have to be sawyer, she's a great dancer and has some really good songs. my ultimate favorite scene was in the last number "nothing's going to stop us now" when they were in the "venice" scene...i thought it was the cutest, even if it was only a few seconds long! but it definitely was a cute movie, and my favorite of all time. this was a great movie. everyone, of all ages, should watch it.
"Cats Don't Dance" is a delightful animated feature in the style of a 1930's musical comedy. The main character, Danny (voiced by Scott Bakula), is a high-spirited cat from Kokomo, Indiana who goes to Hollywood with dreams of becoming a movie star. But there he finds limited roles available for animals. The story is a sly message about discrimination. The imagery is bright and the music is catchy. The villainess is a wonderful Darla Dimple, a Shirley Temple parody of a child star with a dark side. Together with her monstrous manservant Max, they provide many laughs. Other funny animals include Tilly the Hippo (voiced by Kathy Najimy) and T.W. the Turtle (voiced by Don Knotts). So "Cats Don't Dance" is an enjoyable movie for everyone!
Having grown slightly weary of Disney's modern formula, I was pleasantly surprised to find an animated movie that didn't try to be something BIG. The formula was fresh and original, despite the fact that the premise is as old as time, and the songs were jazzy and finger snapping. All in all, this was a fun movie. Fun and high energy. There was also not one single weak character. No stupid sidekicks here. Everybody makes the experience enjoyable. And the humor is priceless. They also managed to make the story thoughtful and even touching while still keeping the movie light and fun. Great direction. Great music. Great animation. Overall, just a great movie. Surprising for a WB movie. This movie came out the same year as Disney's own Hercules, but this is many times better.
This is a great movie for both kids and adults! I have 3 boys, ages 4, 9 and 14, and they ALL like the film, especially the songs. The strange thing is that my boys generally think musical numbers are girl-stuff. Well, girl-stuff or not, they get into this flic, and I sometimes catch them singing along with the catchy tunes.
Scott Bakula is a real surprise as Danny, the talented singing and dancing cat from Kokomo, Indiana, who comes to Hollywood with stars in his eyes, and ignites the fading dreams of the jaded animals who work as extras while humans get all the good scenes.
The principal characters are well cast and easy to like, except for Darla and Max, whom you'll love to hate! BTW - I don't know the name of the young woman who did the singing voice for Darla, but she has a set of pipes that will absolutely knock you on your seat. Big And Loud!
Take a look at this movie with an open mind and a young heart. You'll be glad you gave it a chance!
In the nineties, there were several attempts made by different studios in order to emulate the style from the animated films that the Disney company were producing at those years (Such as "Aladdin", "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King") Some of those attempts were corny and lame, but fortunately, this nice animated film (Which was also the first animated movie directed by Mark Dindal, the same director "The Emperor's New Groove") instead of trying to imitate the Disney formula, prefers to be a light-hearted homage to all the classic musicals from the Golden Age of Hollywood, worked incredibly well in that aspect.
The plot is fast-paced, but easy to follow, with very likable characters, and many funny situations and clever dialogues, not to mention the incredibly catchy songs, that were the best part of the movie.
From my very personal point of view, I think that the combination of all those elements worked much better than in "The Emperor's New Groove" (Which is also a good movie, but I like this more) This is a nice movie for the whole family, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
I'll always be a hardcore Disney fan, but I can't help but have a real soft spot for movies which prove that dreams can come true. This movie about anthropomorphic characters (animals that are like people) is simply incredible- animation stylized, cute, and fun... with an incredible plot, great music (I bought the soundtrack), amazing voice talent (that includes singing!), and believable characters. This is a real keeper...and I'm surprised that it didn't get as much attention as it deserved. I'd reccomend it to anyone who's had a dream, or who has one... and those who just love cartoons.
This film does what few animated musicals attempt but fail to accomplish. The energy and feeling of an old silver screen musical. Gene Kelly would be proud.
The animation is quite the throwback to the Chuck Jones era of cartoons. The city is wonderfully drawn and given a slight art deco feel. The voice acting is spot on for all of the characters and the singing talent is some of the best. Randy Newman does a wonderful job of scoring this film. His musical arrangements are upbeat and fun when need be and pull at your heart's strings at the right time.
It's quite sad that this film was brushed under the carpet by Warner Bros. The lack of popularity, besides not being a Disney movie, could also be due to the fact that the story deals with a subject that not many kids are familiar with, Racism. But the older audience will really appreciate this movie on a whole different level.
Cats Don't Dance was a film that was destined to fail but at the same time left to be one of the best animations of our time.
I was quite small when I saw this movie inside of the local Blockbuster. Naturally, being the animal/animation lover that I am, I immediately picked it up. Watched it, loved it. Then it quickly disappeared from my memory and everyone else's since all of its hype burned out; however, it suddenly started popping up on television a few years later, and I must say, it's as good a watch as the first.
The plot: We find our hero, Danny the Cat, heading out to Hollywood in pursuit of his dreams: to become a star. The cat is bursting with musical talent, as well as his other animal friends, like Tillie, Frances, and especially Sawyer. However, the business only has its eye on musically talented humans and our friends are left out of the spotlight. Can Danny overcome firmly established prejudiced ways and the fake child star Darla Dimple, and make it to the big time, or will he and his friends be stuck with the two-bit roles?
The first thing that sticks out about this movie is the animation. Wonderful, bright,zany, and fast-paced: a very different take on the more, slower moving animated movies. From the memorable ark ride to simply the characters being themselves, the animation was simply fantastic. It dared to be different, and not only did it pay off well with the lasting appeal of the movie itself, but it greatly helped the musical numbers, which were just wonderful.
Of course, with this being a musical, you're going to be like "not another Disney-wannabe. Their songs are already bad enough...." CDD pleasantly surprised me. The songs were very enjoyable. Witty lyrics coupled with good music actually made me feel the writer's took time to develop these songs and the score. Songs ranging from the all-around fun "I've Got Rhythm" to the soulful tune of "Tell Me Lies" greatly moved the story to the wonderful finale that had me with my eyes glued to the screen.
All in all, this movie is a nice little break from many of the overworked Disney movies of today. Good plot, wonderful, colorful animation, and actually GOOD songs make this a feature that is not to be missed. And as a little token to this wonderful movie: "See you in the movies!"
How about an animated story with animal subversives as out of work actors/musicians rising up against a repressive Hollywood movie-mogul dynasty by way of performing the hippest, swingingest dance number. Think it'll work?
Only if the story is realistic enough.
I haven't had this warm and swingin' a feeling watching an animated feature since, well, the last time I watched Tom O'Malley and Duchess (Phil Harris and Eva Gabor's voices) in the movie The Aristocats.
If you haven't seen this animated musical yet and you've been yearning to see a new cartoon feature that is produced the way they used to make 'em, this one's for you. Besides satisfying a craving for 30s/deco styled cartoons, the writing also toys with some deeper themes reminiscent of that era. It's a funny combination because we usually expect cartoons to never dig deeper than surface humor as there's never enough time for character development. However, some very witty writing (there were 10 writers listed in the credits) manages to take this story well into subject matter that is almost downright noir! That's saying a lot for a cartoon musical, and to top it all off we get Randy Newman songs composed apparently during an especially fertile period of this already extremely talented songwriter and Steve Goldstein's Broadway flair adds up to a wallop of absolutely top-notch songs.
"Big & Loud" has an arrangement that Mancini undoubtedly would have been very proud to have written and is belted to perfection by vocalist Lindsay Ridgeway. The female cat character is as jaded and sultry as Michelle Pfeiffer was in Baker Boys, and is sung by Natalie Cole who we all know is one of the most incredible female swing vocalists who has ever lived. This film really has it all. A rare gem, especially for a cartoon.
My favorite character is Woolie Mammoth, a cynical elephant pianist that immediately reminds me of Brahms, only he's a ragtime genius on the keys. In fact, there is not one (NOTE: NOT ONE) weak character in the whole cast. That is, every single supporting wiseacre line in this fast moving musical romp is written & executed perfectly. Of course, when you're writing classic 30s shtick there's plenty of tried & tested winning material and timing (timing, timing, timing!!!) to draw from and it's therefore easier than trying to make a gargoyle or a sea turtle funny. That's exactly where this flick excels, and there's no shame in that.
The most amazing thing about this movie is how it wasn't a blockbuster success from the tee-off. That's okay; there's nothing wrong with being a sleeper success. Absolutely unbelievable that Malkin panned this filck has bad as he did, considering how good it is and the quality of music etc. In the recent rush of animation features vying to break out of the children's film mold during the past few years, it seems you need a stylish techno look to get noticed. But in the long run, the real talent will eventually outshine the rest. Cats Don't Dance is one that should easily hold its place on the video collectors shelf. But to me, well... there are only a few movies that can make me cry. The Sound of Music is one that always "gets me right here." There are certain places in Cats Don't Dance that are very touching, too. Okay, I admit it. I'm a sentimental old fool. Fortunately for me, movies & sentimentality go together like cookies & milk.
This is one of those movies I remember seeing a couple times as a kid, and really really loving every second of. After going many years without seeing it again, I recently had the impulse to find and watch the film. To my surprise, it still held up just about as well as it had when I was younger, and in fact if anything I appreciate it more now.
The animation in Cats Don't Dance is superb. There are few other animated films which have the same level of color and distinctive, characteristic charm to them, and the brilliant animation style makes the characters themselves similarly memorable and very expressive. It's a perfect example of the animation complementing the characters and events, as well as adding to the overall excitement of the movie.
The story is relatively straightforward, and ostensibly isn't anything new: it's the classic story of a naive out-of-towner pursuing a Hollywood dream, discovering Hollywood's real-world coldness, and manages to ultimately find the strength to overcome the obstacles before them and make it big. However, it's executed very well and cleverly enough that it doesn't feel very clichéd.
The characters are great as well, and I wouldn't say any of them are underdeveloped or uninteresting. Danny, the protagonist, is naive and optimistic on entering the Hollywood scene. Although the ruthlessness and cruelty of show business breaks his naiveté, he never really loses his optimistic edge, which I think is what makes him work as a character: throughout the entire film his determination to make it big only grows, and as the story progresses he increasingly desires to help the other animals as well. Once simple enough to accept Darla Dimple's word as trustworthy enough, he finds himself only further hardened in his will and he, in the end, manages to beat her at her own game, thoroughly upstaging her in the process (with the other animals accompanying, of course.)
Sawyer shares Danny's romanticism about the Hollywood dream and herself had been similarly ambitious, but had adopted a more realistic, cynical attitude towards the possibility of her own dreams of fame being achieved. Nonetheless, she does not come off as overtly bitter, and in the beginning of the movie she seems almost satisfied with (or at least accepting of) her simpler clerical work, with none of the "broken dreams" attitude one might expect. Danny becomes determined to bring her back in touch with her dreaming persona, and although she resists initially she slowly rediscovers her larger ambition. The dynamic between the two characters grows into a love interest as Danny becomes attracted to Sawyer's romantic edge and seductive energy, and she eventually to his undying dedication and determination.
The antagonist, Darla Dimple, is a very effective villain: she is sadistic, cruel, and completely self-serving, and hides it from the public under the guise of innocent, angelic childhood. Most of the animals know enough not to get in her way, but Danny is naive enough to trust her with his and the other animals' lives, giving her ample opportunity to crush them completely (she literally attempts to drown them, but failing this, at least frames them for flooding the studio.) Unfortunately for her, her facade of sweetness can barely be kept up as Danny attempts to bring himself and the other animals a last crack at making themselves seen and heard, and when her effort to sabotage their show backfires she loses it and exposes herself, before the audience, to be the monstrosity that she is.
The supporting characters are also entertaining. The various animals deal with their lost dreams of fame in their own ways, and in each case they seem, as with Sawyer, to have accepted it (even Flanigan the goat, bitter as he is, just seems to be generally grouchy more than anything else.) However, they all lack the same degree of hidden ambition and, up until the end, feel they'd rather continue on as regular little people than put themselves on the line again. Nonetheless, they still retain their same love of their talents and, when they finally see a perfect opportunity before them at the end, they give it their best. Max, Ms. Dimple's gargantuan butler, is surprisingly amusing despite (okay, because of) the outward stupidity of his character. Even more interesting is that he can be made to be both terrifying and funny, often simultaneously.
One last unique aspect of the movie is the pop culture references, which are all 1930s-based: people such as Laurel and Hardy and Cary Grant appear, among a number of others. Although most children won't get these references, I personally appreciated it as I last watched the film. The end credits began with a series of parody movie posters, which are interesting in that the movies they're based off of mostly came out at around the same time Cats Don't Dance did.
Overall, this is one of those movies I just have endlessly fond memories of, and I highly recommend it. It has stayed off the radar for many people, simply because it was never very well-publicized, but for anyone who gets a chance to watch it it's well worth the time.
WB kind of encroached on Disney territory with this move (especially by using Randy Newman for the songs, that was kind of a slap in the face), so i wouldn't be surprised if that was why it isn't more popular.
but the songs are excellent, along with the story, animation, characters, and actors. i love natalie cole's voice, and every song that she sang in was awesome.
i saw this as a child, and loved it then.
after seeing it recently about ten years later, i loved it just as much--if not more--than i did then.
the protagonists are endearing, and the antagonists despicable.
without gushing, this is my favorite American animated movie of all time. When i first rented it back in 98, i had to rent it again at least 4 more times. Then i bought it on VHS, and most recently, on DVD. This movie was a part of my childhood and is still a part of me to this day. Every character in this movie is bright, wonderful, and a joy to watch. now i know i said i wouldn't gush. oh well.
The movie is about a cat named danny who wants to be a Hollywood actor. So when he arrives in Hollywood he is shocked to find that it treats animals not quite as he thought, causing them to live in despair. along the way he meets sawyer, a white cat who had given up on her desire, a little penguin named pudge, a hippo named tillie, a MGM lion parody named woolly the mammoth, a turtle voiced by don knotts, and a tango duo of a goat and a fish. his main obstacle is a shirley temple joke named Darla Dimple with her HUGE servant named max. She tries everything in her power to stop him from becoming a star. now i would tell you what happens, but this movie is too good to be spoiled.
This is the way movies should be. The characters are all incredibly enjoyable (even the villain), the songs are so memorable i've been singing them for 11 years (especially the intro song, danny's arrival song, and nothing's gonna stop us now), the animation is beautiful, flowing and very pleasing to the eye, and the theme, while being a bit overused is still great and warming to the heart. that if you try hard enough, you can do anything. More movies need to be this level of quality. a movie that is so good it makes you look past the tiny flaws. This movie will always have a special place in my heart, but this isn't just through the rose colored glasses of my youth, i just saw this movie again this evening and i still feel the warmth and joy i did when i first saw it. the same can't be said about some of my other movies (magic voyage. that's right. you stink). I praise this movie and i will ALWAYS praise this movie. with amazing characters, visuals, songs, and storyline, cats don't dance gets 10 big and loud cats out of 10.
I have seen many movies in my life, dating from the latest movies like; Ironman, Horton Hears a Who, and Clerks 2. Even dating back to movies like; King Kong (the original,) The Wizard of Oz, and Life is Wonderful. Yet, in all my years I have seen movies get less love than they deserve. Many of these movies are ones like; Godzilla: Final Wars, Cloverfield, and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. In my opinion, though, the most under-rated movie of all time has to be; Cats Don't Dance. I remember the first time I had seen this movie, I was 11 or 12 years old, it just looked kind of interesting, so I rented it from my favorite video store, TNT Video (may it rest in peace,) and took it home. My life changed from that point on. It taught me even the biggest dreams are not impossible. Even after I had became an adult,I still watched this movie whenever I was able to rent it or whenever it was on T.V., I would drop everything, ignore everything, and watch this movie that, no matter how many times I would watch it, would still make me laugh, cry, and become inspired all over again. My belief is; music is the ultimate power, it can make you happy, sad, angry, or love-struck, and this movie, Cats Don't Dance, is the embodiment of that belief.
Cats don't dance is a fun entertaining cartoon for all the family and it's one of the best animated musicals I've ever seen. Scott Bakula is wonderful as Danny the talented ambitious cat who dreams of making it big in Hollywood. Along the way he meets a couple of animal buddies who are also like himself waiting for their chance to make their big break but whose stars have faded. Cats don't dance has some fantastic songs that are toe tapping good including Scott Bakula singing Danny's arrival song, the animal jam session, and Nothings gonna stop us now with incredible vocals from Natalie Cole and Scott Bakula.As I was saying Scott Bakula is great as Danny the enthusiastic cat with stars in his eyes. I think he did a brilliant job and his voice in the songs were just spectacular. This is cute,funny,uplifting and a feel good cartoon with a lot of heart and emotion. If you are looking for something with a real story that's fun and entertaining than look no further than this one it's a classic and one the kids will love.
Here's a terrific little movie that hardly anyone is aware of. In this case, that's a shame. This is one of the best animated films of the late 90s.
The animation style in "Cats Don't Dance" is reason enough to recommend it. The characters are allowed to look much more bizarre than what's come to be the accepted norm (my favorites would be the cynical Sawyer and the vicious Olsen Twin caricature, Darla Dimple). They hearken back to the classic cartoons of the thirties and forties, but they also have sort of an eighties spin as well.
But what really makes "Cats Don't Dance" a delight is the script. As in "Babe" and the "Toy Story" movies, the characters are able to get away with a lot of what they say by putting a non-human spin on things (the "Little Ark Angel" song is a sublimely hilarious classic). I should mention that if you thought the Hollywood discrimination subtext of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" was too subtle for you, this is your movie.
With all that said, I should also mention that there's nothing kids shouldn't be seeing or hearing here, but older kids and adults will get a lot more out of it. Especially if you love old cartoons.
Yes, we all know the Land of the Mouse controls the mass marketing, the toys and merchandising tie-ins. Walt (tm) created the full-length animated movie against all odds.
BUT... Wouldn't you rather watch Bugs Bunny? Daffy Duck? Anything directed by Robert McKimson, Chuck Jones or Friz Freleng?
Cats Don't Dance is a WARNER BROTHERS CARTOON!!!!
It is funny, flashy, and it does not insult the intelligence of any adult watching it. Randy Newman's score is well met by Natalie Cole and the former off-Broadway musical star, Scott Bakula, more well known as Dr. Sam Beckett on tv's "Quantum Leap."
Cats Don't Dance (1997) is a hyper-saturated animated feast for the senses and an especially fun treat for those familiar with the musicals and screwball comedies of the 1930's. Having been accustomed to the beautiful detail of Pixar and the delicate touches of Disney's golden age, I was pleasantly surprised by a movie that takes absolute advantage of the slapsticky world of cartoons.
Danny (Scott Bakula) is our wide-eyed feline protagonist who sings and dances his way into a big studio picture headlined by America's Sweetheart Darla Dimple (part voiced by Ashley Peldon and sung by Lindsay Ridgeway). His friends/critics include cynical bit players Tillie the Hippo (Kathy Najimy), Cranston the Billy goat (Hal Holbrook), Wollie the Elephant (John Rhys-Davies) and Pudge the Penguin (Matthew Herried). Also in the mix is obvious love interest Sawyer (voiced by Jasmine Guy and part sung by Natalie Cole). I say obvious because she absolutely despises Danny through two thirds of the film and she's the only other cat in the film. Call me crazy but I think that relationship is a lock.
Danny learns quickly that animals aren't considered star material in Hollywood. His hamming on the set captures the attention of an infuriated Darla yet gains the respect of the other animals. This dynamic is reminiscent of how African Americans were treating during the time. Those who made a go of acting were type-casted as slaves, maids and shoe shiners. Those lucky enough to take full advantage of their roles like Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind (1939) received death threats.
It's interesting to not that in addition to the barrier breaking Gone with the Wind, The film also makes references to The Wizard of Oz (1939), regalia of the LGBT community instilling since of community. Maybe the creators of Cats Don't Dance wanted to make a modern day fable holding to the maxims of equality and acceptance towards all. Though the more reasonable rationale for both films getting their names in lights is they were both released in 1939.
There are other sly riffs on Hollywood classics such as The Footlight Parade (1933), The Ten Commandments (1956), Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Bringing Up Baby (1938). That is in addition to the Darla Dimple character being an obvious parody of Shirley Temple at one point ravenously biting off the heads of animal crackers in front of the beleaguered Danny. They even have an onslaught of throwaway gags involving King Kong (1933), Zsa Zsa Gabor and The MGM Lion among many, many others.
Yet those not looking to reduce an animated movie to a game of "I Spy" will still find a lot to take away. The plot while well-worn is nevertheless genuine and interesting, the animation is eye-popping- ly goofy and the songs are entertaining if occasionally a little bland. One would wish that the characters were given a little more breathing room since the pace of the film is near neck-breaking yet seeing the gang sing "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" makes it all worthwhile.
Directed by the man who gave you The Emperor's New Groove (2000), featuring songs written by the considerably talented Randy Newman and starring the Captain of the Starship Enterprise NX-01, Cats Don't Dance is infectious fun. Overall not quite up there with The Lion King (1994) but comparable to Disney's Hercules (1997) released the same year. It's certainly not a film deserving of its obscurity so track it down and watch it if you can.
Cats Don't Dance is probably best remembered for being a box office bomb. However, I never see people bring up the movie as a movie? Was it a good movie? A bad movie? A mediocre movie?
Well... it's actually good.
However, I would not judge anyone who didn't see it because the advertising for it was awful. Watch the one and only trailer for it. It is bad. Look at the poster for it. It looks bad and uninteresting. Even the title sounds mediocre. This means that all forms of advertising for this movie were bad.
I will start with the bad in this movie so that I can end on a high note:
The Main Character: Danny is the main character and most problems people have with this movie is Danny. Most people see him as a one dimensional wooden character, and to a certain extent he is. He seems upbeat almost 24/7 and when he is down, he isn't down for awhile. The other issue he has is that he is incredibly naive. Now, I don't have an issue with this. Why? Because these are characteristics of real people I know. Danny is incredibly naive and upbeat, but that doesn't make him one- dimensional. It just means he doesn't have a super complex emotional journey. Imagine Tack from the unreleased "Thief and the Cobbler". Tack isn't a super complex character, yet you can tell that he is thinking and what his character is by his facial expressions. The same is with Danny. He may not say a lot, but you can tell he is definitely thinking.
The Plot: The biggest issue I had with this movie was that the plot didn't seem to travel or go any real distance of time. It seemed over too quickly. The ending was actually the most generic aspect of this movie. The ending song wasn't very spectacular and it held the movie back a little bit. The romance was also a little forced.
Those are the only issue I could find with the movie.
The Cast: This movie has a really nice set of characters. All of them are entertaining, funny, unique...ish, and creative. I couldn't think of a character that actually annoyed me. The villain was easily one of the funniest aspects of the movie. The way Darla could express so much while saying very little.
The Animation: For a movie running on a minimal budget, the animation is very nice. It is smooth, has a nice art style, and helps express the characters. Everything is very fluid in this movie, and it helps with the characters a lot.
The First Half: The first half of the movie builds up the world and the characters very nicely. I initially thought this movie was going to be a lot better by its first half. Everything is quick, but the world is built up quite well.
Summary: Cats Don't Dance is very well animated movie that is both incredibly funny and entertaining. Its biggest drawback is that it has some forced clichés thrown in here and there that don't seem as creative as the rest of the movie. All of the characters were likable. I was surprised that such a good movie could not be remembered by the general public.
Also, did anyone feel like this movie could've been speaking about racism... ever so slightly.
I normally don't like musicals, animated or otherwise. Something about people breaking out and singing out of no where just seems to bug me and also the song after song happening just I just don't normally care for that stuff. Now after saying this, you would think that I wouldn't like this movie, right? Actually I fell in love with it. The music and characters personalities actually work really well together, making the show just lovable. Through all the small flaws that it had (some of which are understandable as how old the show is) the story pops out the most.
I really love the characters. Each one has a memorable personality that defines there character and they don't really break that stereotype except for what they lone to do weather its dancing, singing, acting out, or creating music. When you see them outside of doing what they love, you see broken people who have had their dreams smashed before their eyes. They do all they can to protect themselves from being rather gitty and feely to being grumps and adding rather sarcastic remarks. Each one feels like they have been made for the different forms of depression and loss. I know I'm going into psychological ideas for the show but this is really why I love this show. We have Danny who has his hopes and dreams shattered right out of the gate but in his mind, he believes that it is only a set back to his plans on being a star. He is what I would call the first stage of loss called Denial. He just can't believe that the world is as bad as people are making it out to be. Then we have the anger stage and I feel the character that says this most is Cranston Goat and partly in his dancing partner, Frances Albacore. They are always being sarcastic and rude to the others. The only stage that does not seem to be shown is the third with Bargaining. No one seems to do that type of stuff although we have a very over optimistic hippo that is being nice to everyone, always trying to help them out. Forth stage of Depression is depression itself, shown very well in T.W. who is always saying negative things based on his fortune cookies. The last one I believe would be for Sawyer, Acceptance. She accepts that she will never make it to the top, she will always be the secretary, never the Diva, and even forgets her dreams. She doesn't even do it for fun and thinks it's just a waist of time.
We have a story that pretty much has a storybook tale of a guy looking to make it big in the movies doing what he truly loves to do, to dance and sing. As he gets to Hollywood though, not everything is as glamorous as it was made out to be and part of that is something that I believe not many picked out on when the show was first shown. The storyline has a very strong feeling to racism that is surprising for a show made for younger children and it's what I believe makes the show speak to the older crowd. If you substitute the word 'Animal' with the word 'Black' or 'Latino' or even 'Asian' you can kind of see where I'm going with it. The idea that these animals are not treated with the same idea as humans. They don't get a chance to be a star, only background characters who are pretty much stereotyped by the type of creature they are. For example, the Noah Ark show they start taping makes them have only one line and its based on the sound there animal makes. The dog says woof, the cow says moo, and the cat says meow. They aren't given a chance to show they can do anything else because they weren't even cast because of their talent.
The artwork is really catered to the year it came out but it actually doesn't feel all that old. The art style was created with very outrageous and exaggerated features like rather skinny waists that make them look like they would brake apart at any moment. We have cartoon-ish faces and at times they end up squashing and stretching as they move in order to show a rather extensive movement. It's hard to really explain it but its pretty amazing that the humans are drawn almost as though they are animals themselves or don't seem 'human'. The animals seem so much more human then the humans themselves though it's hard to actually explain. The only one that seems any close to human is the little Darla Dimple character who is the main villain of the show.
The music is actually really nice and catchy, making you just want to dance at some times which works with the whole concept of the story. If you want to have a story about people trying to become a star, you need some pretty high class music to make it. I found myself singing along with some of the songs including the opening song 'I'm on my Way' which seemed to tell the storyline rather well. The voice acting is really good with big name people like Don Knotts playing the rather nervous turtle, T.W., to Betty Lou Gerson who had done the voice of Cruella De Vil in the 1961 version of 101 Dalmations. We even have Dee Bradley Baker who did the voice of Daffy Duck in Space Jam and did voices in many old TV shows like 'Hey Arnold!', 'Rugrats', and 'Johnny Bravo'. When you put all these voices together, it makes for a really interesting sounding movie.
I caught a rendering of a scene on Deviant Art, and was told that the scene was from an animated feature called "Cats Don't Dance". I took a chance on it, and saw a film that I think could have been better than it ultimately became.
When I think of classic MGM cartoons I immediately think of Tom and Jerry, Droopy, Screwy Squirrel and a few others. Well, "Cats Don't Dance" is none of those, but it does have a certain charm. A lot of the classic ultra violent slapstick that is that hallmark of the classic cartoon has been replaced with high energy benign comic styleings that, to be honest, don't really hit the mark. I'm sorry, but even kids know that comedy is the misfortune of others, largely because it makes us feel superior to the poor guy who suffers misfortune, because he's done so through his own stupidity.
Now, not all humor has its genesis in laughing at the other guy's plight, as there are a lot of humorous things that can be done through expressions, reactions and close calls of all sorts. But when you strictly base humor solely on the benign, or rather delegate the bad- taste humor because it involves cartoon violence to the "black hats" in the piece, then you're making a value judgment that the public is smart enough to figure out.
People can get swept up in trends and hysteria, but to presuppose that children, or specifically all children, will mimic violent slapstick, is perhaps not unrealistic, but perhaps making too much of an assumption of the human character (regardless of age).
And that's the real problem with this film. It tries to make up for a lack of humor by injecting tons of energy into every routine, every bit, every gag that's displayed for the audience. It thus feels like a quickly put together patch job of gags that were story boarded and retrofitted to a basic story and plot.
The voice acting is fine, the sound effects and other facets of the production are first rate, but, as I say, we essentially have a neutered production. The small evil Shirley Temple like antagonist is over the top and cliché, the protagonist is cliché, pretty much the whole array of characters are from central casting. Even so Bakula and Guy do a respectable job of thesping the part, but they're hard pressed to carry a production that has other issues.
To be honest it's not a production I'd take my kids to see (if I had any). Not because it's offensive or lacks morals, it's just not that good, and at times is so high energy as to be incomprehensible.
Give it a whirl if you must, but watch at your own risk.
Nothing's more of a nostalgic movie for me than Cats Don't Dance, the energetic animated musical of Hollywood, passion, and the pursuit of dreams that is the most criminally underrated movie I have ever seen in my life.
We are introduced to Danny, a cat full of ambition and dreams of making it AS A STAR! He arrives in Hollywood and quickly meets the other wonderful cast of animals: Tilly Hippo, Cranston Goat, T.W Turtle, later Woolly Mammoth, and another cat simply named Sawyer; who is not too pleased with Danny's dream-chasing, singing and dancing attitude.
Shortly after the introduction to the others, he lands a spot on the latest movie "Little Ark Angel" starring "America's Sweetheart, Lover of Children and Animals" Darla Dimple: who's pretty much a cross between Shirley Temple, Baby-Doll from the animated Batman, and a Disney villain. While filming the movie, Danny makes himself noticed much to the displeasure of Darla who shows her true colors as a spoiled little munchkin who again is as heinously evil as some of Disneys most evil villains. Which results in the calling of the gargantuan servant of Darla known as Max, which results in Max teaching Danny a lesson that I'm not gonna lie is actually pretty funny.
After that happens, we find out why no one liked his little number and why Sawyer is so despondent toward Danny. We find out that Hollywood, for no clear reason, wants talented human actors and not talented animals. And the other characters we've met have talent that was wrongfully overlooked, Sawyer being both the most promising and seemingly the most broken of the group. But Danny, still wanting to follow his dream, tries to convince the others to do the same. The result: the rest of the movie.
If I took out the nostalgia, I would love Cats Don't Dance all the same. I love how fun it is, I love how sincere it is, but mostly I love how passionate and driven it is. Its not a flawless movie; some of the singing voices sound a bit odd when compared to the talking voices. Danny isn't THAT well developed but not enough that I think he brought the film down. But aside from a few nitpicks I truly do love it.
The music is done by Randy Newman. And while I don't "love" Randy Newman, this is really good. The songs are both catchy and fit the moods appropriately. The orchestral work is impressive as well, fitting the 1930s Hollywood setting perfectly. The animation is fantastic too; offering a familiar Warner Bros. animation feel.
Honestly, I love this movie. I love everything about it. It's great, fun to watch, memorable and very underrated. I love the characters, the music, the animation, the drama; but mostly the passion. Its serious nostalgia for me, and people should definitely watch it.