Cats Don’t Dance – Nostalgia Critic
[“The Review Must Go On”] [gentle music] [“The Review Must Go On”] Hello, I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don’t have to. Ever since I started this show, I’ve got a lot of requests to review the movie “Cats Don’t Dance,” released in 1997. Really? This is seen as a bad movie? I mean, I remember seeing it a long time ago, and I recall it being okay. Not perfect, but a serviceable film. A nice little kid’s movie with nice animation and one or two laughs. I even mentioned at one point I would never review this movie, because I didn’t think the flaws were bad enough to fill up an entire review. But then I started thinking about it. Maybe you don’t want me to review this movie because it’s so bad, but because it left an impact. I’m hearing more and more that this is one of those movies that was played a lot on Cartoon Network, and even though it bombed at the box office, it found life on VHS, resulting in only now a wide screen release on DVD. And with all the recommendations I’ve been getting for it, clearly it has a following. So, what is it that draws so many people to this animated flick? Eh, why not take a look? This is my quick mini-review of “Cats Don’t Dance.” It starts off with a Randy Newman song… [inhales] That’s nice. …as we see a cat in the nineteen thirties named Danny, played by Scott Bakula… This will be the greatest movie ever made if this is all secretly an identity from “Quantum Leap!” …is traveling to Hollywood to try and become a star. Danny: ♪ You can do anything, if you try ♪ ♪ Dig that face, they ain’t seen nothin’ like it any place ♪ ♪ It’s right up off the movie screen ♪♪ Nostalgia Critic: The first thing you might notice about this film is that it seems, well, corny. Like, Indiana can’t supply enough fuel for your corniness. But, there’s a couple things to keep in mind. On top of the beautifully colorful and lively animation, this is a throwback to musicals of that era, which represents Danny’s optimism that’s going to be dashed later on in the film. In fact, reality is already kind of sinking in, as the love interest of the film is not introduced through glitter and lights, but, rather, Danny unknowingly screwing her over, blinded by his cheerfulness. Everything he does somehow results in her misery. Also, sh*t, Captain Archer’s a good singer! Danny: ♪ Hollywood! Where the streets are paved with gold ♪ ♪ Where the kitties never grow old ♪♪ Nostalgia Critic: Ensign! Set a course for… smooth. [lounge piano music] Yeah, how ya doin’? Yeah. Danny enters a talent agency, coming across a slew of weirdos and has-beens, if they ever have been, and the talent agent just happens to need a cat for a Noah’s Ark picture. Farley: Just sign here, here, here, here, [rapidly] and here and here and here and here over there down the middle… [gibberish] Sawyer: A cat crossed my path. Tilly: Orange tabby?
Sawyer: Yeah? Tilly: Green vest?
Sawyer: Yeah? Tilly: Straw hat?
Sawyer: Yeah! Tilly: Oh, what a coinkydink!
Sawyer: How’d you know? Tilly: Hippo intuition? Farley: Ha! Nostalgia Critic: While the music in scenes like this can get distractingly loud, the pacing is pretty impressive, calling back to classic fast-talking comedies of that time like “His Girl Friday” and “Bringing Up Baby.” Farley: I’ll give you Sundays off.
Sawyer: I never work Sundays. Farley: Pay you double time?
Sawyer: Triple time. Farley: Triple time?!
Sawyer: Is there an echo in here? Farley: You’re pushing me!
Sawyer: No chow, no meow. Walter Burns: Look, darling, this will bring us back together again. Just the way we used to be! Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson: That’s just what I’m afraid of. Any time, anyplace, anywhere. Walter Burns: Don’t mock me! This is bigger than anything that ever happened to us! Nostalgia Critic: Only this time, the animation can magnify the movements as well as the speech. Plus, our love interest, Sawyer, played by Jasmine Guy, continues to comedically be the subject of needless violence, the best kind of violence. [Sawyer yowls] I’m not usually for animal cruelty, but if Tom and Sawyer could get together for a slapstick routine, I already have the perfect name. Man: Tom Sawyer? Nostalgia Critic: That’s actually better! Sawyer gets roped into a role, too, as they can’t find any female cats, and they’re off to shoot with their main star, a Shirley Temple knockoff named Darla Dimple, played by Ashley Peldon. She’s just jealous because she flunked out of art class. Darla: ♪ I built a little boat, as cute as it can be ♪♪ Nostalgia Critic: This character is by far the best part of the movie. At first you might be wondering what I’m talking about, but when Danny musically improvises? Her reactions from here on out are beyond priceless. Darla: And who here’s an angel? YOU TELL ME WHO HERE IS AN ANGEL! Flanigan: Why you are Darla! Sweetheart, celebrity, darling! [chokes] Nostalgia Critic: I don’t think there’s enough haunted houses for the amount of scary faces she makes in this movie. They’re all horrifyingly insane, and the animation doesn’t hold back in the slightest, making every reaction hilarious. Even the one on the cover is kind of disturbing. She looks like whoever possessed Regan in “The Exorcist”. With such a lighthearted tone for the rest of the film, this is an enjoyably cynical approach to a child icon. It’s kind of weird, but also funny, this idea of turning a Shirley Temple type persona into a villain. It’s equivalent of showing the Olsen twins as villains, or the Jerry McGuire kid as a villain, or… [evil laugh] Dah! No, that one’s for real! This leads to the only character who might actually be funnier than Darla, her butler, Max. When she calls for him, we don ‘t even see him approach, he’s already inside. The angles they use to show the size of this guy are simple in layout, but ridiculously effective. He never even separates his teeth to say a word. Max: Yes, Miss Dimple? Nostalgia Critic: And when he puts Danny in his place, his exit perfectly through the him-shaped hole is inspiringly extreme. I don’t think Batman could have an exit that good. When Danny tries to figure out what he did wrong, Sawyer lays some blunt reality on him, leading to probably the film’s most poignant line. Danny: All I want to do is the thing I love. Doesn’t everyone? Nostalgia Critic: But Danny finds out he’s not the only one with dashed dreams. He comes across an elephant named Woolie Mammoth, who’s the logo for the studio, which he has to do every time they make a movie. This cracks me up, because it would be so much easier just to shoot it once and reuse the footage. But every time a movie is made, he has to squeeze his head through, get made up, and he has to do the sound effect all over again. That’s just enjoyably pointless. It’s made even funnier by the fact that he’s apparently a piano player. How??? He has hooves! Or paws! Or whatever elephant hands are called! How does he hit the keys? I know it’s a small thing, but that really makes me laugh. Danny finds out that Woolie wanted to be a musician, but the Hollywood system chewed him up and spat him out, just like all the rest of his new friends. Apparently, Hollywood just isn’t interested in animals as leads. Danny: But I thought Hollywood was always looking for new talent? Woolie: Ah ah ah! Talented *people*. Not animals. Nostalgia Critic: When will human-washing stop? But Danny thinks he can inspire everybody again, and brings out some old costumes and instruments to have fun with. The color literally comes back into their lives. In fact, the use of color to show their constant conflicting emotions is very clever. Whey they’re interested, they start to glow and become more vibrant. But when they’re not, they step back into the shadows, and once again, the color is removed. It’s subtle, but it’s pretty smart. Darla sees that Danny is going to try and get an audition with a big-time producer, and she’s afraid that their talent might upstage hers. Darla: Invite that cat… to teeeeeeea. Nostalgia Critic: Okay, if Jared Leto harnessed this kind of creepiness, we would have a much better Joker. Darla invites Danny over to her house and offers him and his animal friends her studio and props to audition for the big-time producer, L. B. Mammoth. Little does Danny know that L. B. doesn’t know, and they’re about to crash an important press conference. Cue the most maniacally maniacal of laughs. Darla: [maniacal laugh] Nostalgia Critic: Is it wrong that I’m siding with the villain and I really think she should have her own movies? We get a pretty fun villain song obviously making every person who worked on it the happiest animators in the world. Darla: ♪ Big and loud! ♪ ♪ It’s gonna be big and loud! ♪ Nostalgia Critic: And thus, the animals show up to the studio, but Darla floods the stage, putting the press conference, as well as the entire studio, under water. All the animals are fired, and they of course blame Danny, leading of course, to a sad song… …from Sawyer… …doing her best Natalie Cole impression. Sawyer: ♪ Gonna turn just a little unkind ♪♪ Nostalgia Critic: It’s not bad, but if you’ve heard Sally’s song from “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and just put little cat ears on top of her head, it’s pretty much the same thing. But Danny gets an idea on how to redeem himself, as well as get some revenge. He invites everyone to the premiere of her movie, planning to show everyone what they can do. But Max hears a bow tie snap and is literally gone in the next shot. The only thing funnier that what we see with this guy is what we don’t see. Danny and Max have a big fight on top of a Darla balloon… One of the strangest settings for a climax since David Hasselhoff. …and Danny eventually sends him flying. This results in the animals going on to perform, and making it look like it was Darla’s idea. The audience is resistant, but they give them a chance, and of course, they love them. Even with Darla trying to stop them yet again, she only ends up making the show even better. She accidentally exposes her evil plans to everyone, resulting in her career being destroyed, and the animals acting in movies that wouldn’t be released for sixty years. And that is “Cats Don’t Dance.” Is it corny? Yeah. Are there times when the music and sound effects are a little much? Absolutely. But… How did “The Hudsucker Proxy” put it and then I stole years later? Norville Barnes: You know, for kids. [ding] Some movies are for families, this is clearly for kids. That is to say, there are definitely elements for adults. Darla is great, her butler is great, the callbacks to classic Hollywood are nice, and, honestly, you could argue that there’s a good lesson about prejudice in there. Despite it being called the Golden Age of Cinema, there were still many groups that were kept out of it. If you replace the animals in this movie with many minority groups, you could actually have yourself a pretty fitting commentary. Is that what they had in mind? I don’t know, it could be a very simple follow-your-dreams story. But if “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” can be about cartoon animals dealing with racism, why can’t this? And if you think it’s too strange or goofy to be enjoyed, look on the bright side. Michael Jackson was going to be a part of it. Yeah, no joke. This was originally supposed to star a live-action Michael Jackson with animated characters wanting to be movie stars. In fact, at one point, it was supposed to be the Looney Tunes. But after Jackson dropped out, they gave the Looney Tunes move to Michael Jordan, and kept the story going, because, hey, maybe there was something there even without Jackson. And again, I think there is, if you look at it as a kid’s film. It’s not going to entertain both adults and children perfectly like “The Iron Giant,” “Kung-Fu Panda,” or “Spirited Away,” but it’s colorful, energized, and has a good message for kids, while also having some great expressions, hints of cynicism, and nice salutes to the early days of film for adults. It’s not a classic, but it’s a good film. It’s a little cheesy, but if done well, cheesy is fine. It’s definitely worth showing to children, and maybe you too can sneak a peek and gain just the right amount of enjoyment from it. How’d that phrase go again, Tim Robbins? Norville Barnes: You know, for kids. Nostalgia Critic: Exactly. But you know what, sometimes there’s no fault in wanting to feel like a kid again, and this is a good film to do that with. I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don’t have to. [“The Review Must Go On”] [Channel Awesome Outro]