#20 The Aristocats

#20 The Aristocats

Too many dogs?

Turn on a light, make sure it’s bright, because we have officially entered…The Disney Dark Ages *lightning crackles, thunder booms* That’s right, we’re not just starting the ’70’s, but the next era of Disney Animation. If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney “ages”, the different periods of animation have been given names to differentiate them: we’ve had the Golden Age, the Wartime Era, The Silver Age, and now (until 1988) we are in what is commonly known as The Dark Age. It’s also referred to as the Bronze Age, but where’s the fun in being less dramatic? So, why does this era have such a dreary name? Well a few reasons. First, Aristocats was the first movie to be produced without Walt’s involvement after his death. Second, none of the next eight movies performed particularly well or have situated themselves in the zeitgeist as classics (sorry if one of them is your favorite, they aren’t all bad, but just…lackluster compared to what came before and after). Third, there were various production problems, including backstage drama, but I’ll spill that tea when the time comes (aka stay tuned). Finally, the movies in general tend to have a darker tone, especially once we get to the ’80’s. Definitely a very interesting time in Disney history.

Now, let’s focus on just the history of this film. The Aristocats was originally planned to be live-action and part of the anthology TV series Wonderful World of Color. The first script was actually rejected by a Disney exec so the producers brought it to Walt himself, which is pretty funny to me because it’s basically like someone asking their sibling to do something for them and the sibling says no so then the person going to their mom or dad to make the sibling do that thing. Walt approved, but after some script revisions, it was ultimately decided to turn the project into a full length, animated film that focused less on an emotional story-line and more of an adventure comedy that was similar to 101 Dalmatians.

Eva Gabor (star of the popular TV series Green Acres) voiced the mother cat, Duchess, while Phil Harris (voice of Baloo) returned to the booth to voice Thomas O’Malley, the street cat who helps Duchess and her kittens. The film was well received by critics and performed well at the box office both domestically and overseas. Presently, The Aristocats, while remembered fondly, doesn’t seem to have reached quite the level of fame as earlier Disney films nor does it have a strong a presence in Disney parks. The kittens, especially Marie, can sometimes be found in the parks for pictures and in some shows and parades. Marie is also pretty heavily featured on various merchandise.

I know I watched this movie at some point as a kid, but it was definitely only once. So, I’m excited to rewatch. The one thing I remember most is the song “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” because my college’s mascot was a wildcat so, ya know, many an insta caption came from the song. Alright, let’s go!

My thoughts on The Aristocats

  • The “long opening credits accompanied by song that is the title of the movie” cliche is even less entertaining since I can’t understand French
  • I think this is the first time we got a year?
  • Aww the kittens are polite
  • This old lawyer guy is adorably eccentric
  • She got an elevator in her HOUSE?!
  • Madame is RICH rich
  • I’m getting the vibe that Edgar is not paid enough for this crap
  • So the lady seems very attached to her cats. But where is the kittens’ dad? I feel like the woman wouldn’t let her precious cat just wander the neighborhood. In fact, that’s kinda the whole point of the movie right? So why wouldn’t the woman have the male dad cat with his family? Is it a friends cat? Did he die? Why isn’t he addressed? I’m concerned
  • This lady is like in her 70’s and she hasn’t made a will yet?
  • She’s leaving her house, her money, her chateau, her jewels, TO HER CATS
  • Now I hate this lady. What are cats going to do with all that?? What’s the point? All those riches could go to charities, people who need it, but she’s giving them to her cats…I really hate her. I may even, and I don’t say this lightly, hate her more than Donald Duck
  • Okay so this rich broad leaving everything to her cats is RIDICULOUS and if I were her butler for years, I would be PISSED too….but if I WAS going to get it, just after the cats, I think I could wait…cats don’t live THAT long
  • I looked it up cats can live up to 17 years. That’s awhile to wait but you still have to wait for the old lady to die, that could be like 10 years down the road. One would need patience but at least you would one day get the money.
  • But also, how does the money just go to the cats??? They can’t spend it…so does Edgar take care of the cats and get a stipend that can ONLY GO TO THE CATS…how do they monitor that….Couldn’t he just use the money on his own while living in the mansion with the cats? That’s not a bad deal!
  • Edgar bent on killing the cats BEFORE the Madame has died is just silly….she can get new cats! You gotta wait until AFTER she’s dead, geez, Edgar…..not that I’m encouraging murdering this old lady…
  • WHY is the sister British but the boys are american?? And they live in Paris…Why is Disney voice acting so inconsistent during the last few movies
  • “Ladies do not start fights but they can finish them” love that quote. don’t love how overused it is
  • Why do the cats get piano and singing lessons?
  • Edgar should forget about killing them and just try to make money off them as show cats once the old lady dies
  • Wouldn’t pouring a WHOLE bottle of sleeping pills straight up kill these kittens??
  • I mean…problem solved I guess…
  • The winnie the pooh voice (Sterling Holloway) was the original voice that must be in every movie before John Ratzenberger had to be in every Pixar movie
  • Edgar is far too hasty with this plan, trying to get rid of them right away. The Madame is still alive, you think she won’t do everything possible to find her cats?
  • Also, these are young kittens so this is another edition of Disney’s favorite trope “old grumpy person has beef with child(ren)”. Mark it off on your bingo board, take a drink…
  • The french dogs are southern?
  • I know I’m being nitpicky but why set it in a different country? There is no need for this to be in Paris, it’s not like it’s Hunchback.
  • I do like that one of the dogs is named Laffeyette
  • Is he taking the horses by the reins making red coats redder with bloodstains?
  • Why are these dogs so bent on attacking this guy? Is it because he’s disturbing their sleep? On their territory? Please give me a reason because it doesn’t make sense
  • I feel like i’m being very harsh with this movie, and I’m not trying to, i have no beef, it’s just not very well thought out and not fantastical enough to get away with it
  • Also this sequence is super long and it doesn’t even concern the main plot. In 101 Dalmatians the action sequences/car chase pretty much all had to do with either P&P and/or the puppies
  • Why wouldn’t they check the basket first, it’s not Toulouse’s fault ya’ll are dumb
  • “Edgar? that’s ridiculous” Is it really though? Didn’t seem like he had a great relationship with you guys…
  • Aww this brave little mouse is going out in the storm to find them
  • Thomas is singing about himself? He’s not even introducing himself yet
  • I feel they were going for Tramp with this character (I mean, it’s the same setup, charming street animal used to roaming and being free meets a sheltered animal from a wealthy home) but Tramp had street cred, he was scrappy, this guy is just conceited
  • Also he definitely hasn’t traveled to places like “Calcutta” and “Rome” and back to France
  • HA he thought he was so slick hitting on this lady cat and now she got kids
  • These kids calling out Thomas on his lies hahaha RIP his game
  • NO WAY these rich cats from the city don’t know what a car is
  • That poor driver
  • When they hitched a ride on the truck in 101 D’s they didn’t have to nearly kill a man…
  • “Poor Madame in that big mansion all alone” yeah, somehow my pity isn’t manifesting atm
  • The front page news in the city of Paris is missing cats…
  • WHY would you say out loud that you kidnapped the cats?? You don’t know who’s outside or around
  • He’s pretty confident about not being found when he has a CLEAR MOTIVE and works closely with the cats? He should be the number one suspect right now
  • Where is Javert??
  • Ew is that cream in the truck being brought to a restaurant or store?? And the cats are eating out of it??
  • Disgusting
  • I know THEY don’t know better but *I* do
  • “What a horrible human” “some humans are like that” yeah some humans don’t want their livelihood messed with by a bunch of random animals nor do they want to ingest food that’s been licked at by a bunch of random felines
  • Oh my god can someone keep a hold on this poor girl first the truck now the river
  • Duchess how do you not notice your daughter not in your arms
  • Marie is clearly not the favorite child
  • Or is Duchess TRYING to get rid of Marie? Hmmm….now there’s an interesting movie….
  • These geese walked all the way from England? Did they swim across the English Channel???
  • These geese are annoying they are literally watching him drown
  • The side animals in 101 Dalmatians were all helpful and competent…
  • Look, if Disney wanted to make the same movie over again just with different animals, they shouldn’t have made it so much worse
  • The geese just went from thinking Thomas was best thing ever to thinking he’s a “cad” because he and Duchess aren’t married, judgey and rude, mind your business, geese
  • Geese: he’s a philanderer. Marie: how romantic. What?? 
  • Now they’re forcing the cats to walk like geese. Why??
  • Urgh so many scenes in this movie are just annoying
  • Wow that french chef is clearly not as cool as the Italian chef from Lady and the Tramp
  • Shout out to Tony and his better movie
  • WOW so the uncle goose just escaped from near death and being cooked that’s kinda dark
  • But how is he drunk from the wine they were going to cook him in if he’s still alive? You don’t douse live poultry with wine! That would be such a waste
  • Oh yeah remember Mr. “There’s no way I can be caught for this crime” left incriminating clothes at the crime scene

Another meme about Edgar’s plan because it is just so gosh darn stupid (and also this movie and it’s plot didn’t give me much to work with)

  • Nooo not these dogs again
  • Napoleon is so mean to Lafayette this is a toxic relationship
  • I feel like I’ve spent more time with these dogs than the lead characters
  • Did Thomas just call his friends “swingers”? Umm….
  • Ooh jazzy cats
  • I feel like between the southern dogs and now the jazz this movie should have taken place in New Orleans rather than Paris
  • Yes let’s speed this song up
  • Oh goody they brought the racist Siamese cat thing back from Lady and the Tramp, too
  • Does this film have a single original element??
  • Thanks for slowing it back down Duchess, way to kill the fun
  • Well they just destroyed that building
  • At least Sterling Holloway has range (Kaa, Winnie the Pooh, this mouse whose name I can’t spell and don’t care enough to look up) and voices very different characters, the Baloo voice plays like the same guy in this and JB: carefree, irresponsible, forms surprising attachment to child(ren)
  • Okay, Thomas brings up the kitties needing a father and this would be the perfect time to find out what happened to the father but NOPE
  • I’m starting to think there are REASONS they’re keeping it secret….maybe Edgar wasn’t the first to attempt murder….
  • But also WOW Thomas went from “I’m free and I love it” to “I’m ready to settle down and become a father of 3” in less than a day
  • Am I terrible if i kinda enjoyed the kittens running into the door?
  • So Duchess can’t live in Thomas’ neighborhood, make sense, but why can’t HE live in their neighborhood? Like, not in the house but can’t he visit the yard?? Are they exclusively indoor cats
  • Wait, how did Madame hear the kittens meowing outside the front door from UPSTAIRS but didn’t hear Edgar let them in nor the commotion of him putting them in the stove?
  • If they meow from inside the stove shouldn’t she hear them??
  • Why is Thomas sending this mouse out into ALL OF PARIS to find his cat friends who he’s never met
  • This poor mouse but if he couldn’t remember Thomas’ name…why wouldn’t he at least mention duchess and the kittens
  • These cats are jerks, they HAVE to have an inkling he’s talking about O’Malley since he keeps saying “O” last names
  • “He’s on the level” “You’re darn tootin I’m on the level” hahaha ok that got a laugh out of me
  • “wait for me you don’t know the way” Roquefort is the only character who makes sense in this film (and for that I cared enough to learn to spell his name)
  • That man pouring out wine onto the sidewalk is NOT on the level
  • What’s the point in mailing the chest if the cats will suffocate in like an hour??
  • And won’t it be easy to trace back to Edgar? The mail man is going to remember a large blue chest
  • WHERE IS MADAME??
  • Can she not hear this commotion? Guess it’s not as loud as three small kittens meowing?!
  • Did…did Edgar just hear the mouse speak?
  • Wait, the chest lid closed, the chest slid out the door, and it immediately got picked up so no one locked it, Edgar can just stand up…
  • Who explained to Madam who Thomas was? Edgar was gone and the chest wasn’t there so why did she keep him when she found him in the barn?
  • So Madame is chill about O Malley staying cus they need a “man” around the house so all the more reason why wasn’t the original kitten daddy kept?
  • #JusticeForCatDad
  • That’s cool she’s housing the alley cats, at least putting her money and big house to use for good
  • But also now ALL her money is going to cats…..
  • No homeless HUMANS in Paris I guess…
  • There really is no one to root for in this movie
  • Oh well, imma just enjoy the jazzy outro music
  • Oh gosh darn it I can’t even do THAT
  • GO AWAY DOGS!!!

Wow. I feel like this post was more a roast, which is not my intention on this blog. I’m sorry if The Aristocats is a favorite of anyone out there (IS it a favorite of anyone?). I truly have nothing against this movie, I don’t know why it annoyed me so much, but it did. I think it mainly stemmed from the film as a whole was such a rehash of things already done in 101 Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp, which were both much better movies, with more endearing characters. Everybody Wants To Be A Cat was groovy, though.

Let me know what you think of The Aristocats. If someone out there would like to vehemently defend it, please do!

Next week will definitely be more positive as we’re covering Robin Hood which, spoiler, I did enjoy!

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