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DVD Review: The Aristocats (Special Edition)

Aristocats has to be one of the few, if not the only classic Disney animated movie that I had not seen before. In fact, I have to be honest here... I had never even heard of it! Truly odd, I thought. It's not like this is one of those weak made-for-DVD animated films that Disney's been cranking out over the last few years. Aristocats was actually made in the 1970s, so needless to say I was kind of eager to check it out. Of course, once I did, the reason I never heard of it before became quite clear... it's extremely dull.

The plot follows the plight of four cats in Paris who live with a wealthy former actress, Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, who absolutely loves them. In fact, she loves them so much that she has her will made out so that Dutchess and her three kittens will inherit everything when she passes, and only after they die does her faithful butler Edgar inherit everything. Well, he happens to overhear this, and devises a plan to get rid of the cats. Up to this point, I already have one major annoyance with film: the animation is jittery. It's like they animated and colored their sketches rather than cleaning up and animating legitimate drawings.

The next annoyance comes soon, one we learn of Edgar's plan to get rid of the cats, or more specifically, the timeframe that he chooses implements his plan... which is the same night that he overhears the will being changed! Huh?! Why would you risk kidnapping and abandoning cats NOW?! Why not just wait 'till the old lady croaks, then do away with the kitties? Who know, maybe they'll have died by then anyway. It just doesn't make sense. And how does he know she won't eventually decide to just get some new cats? I just start to get the feeling here that the story hadn't been flushed out like it should have been.

Anyway, moving past that strange plot point, Edgar hops on his motorcycle with the sleeping cats in the sidecar and takes off. As he's driving, some dogs decide to attack him for apparently no reason. Another sign of a non-flushed out story? Me thinky so. After a rather non-humorous exchange between Edgar and the dogs in which the cats get thrown from the sidecar, Edgar heads back and the cats wake from the forced slumber. Almost instantly they meet an orange cat named Thomas O'Malley (who sounds exactly like Baloo Bear from the Jungle Book), and after a bit of dialog he offers to help them find their way back to Paris.

Along the way you'd probably expect them to have some intriguing adventures and meet a bunch of interesting characters, but unfortunately this doesn't really happen. They do meet some characters, like the twin geese, though none are very interesting. There are some songs, but none are as good as those found in other Disney films. Some sounded like they were Jazz, or at least influenced by Jazz, and I suppose that could be part of my problem since Jazz is one of the few musical genres that I really don't care for.

I also have to make a confession here... this movie put me to sleep, as it did my wife. This doesn't usually happen to me, and I know that I wasn't really tired or anything. I had went to bed at a normal time the previous night, and I didn't wake up early or have a bad night. Thus, I'm pretty sure this happened because the movie was just uninteresting and monotonous. Oh, don't worry, I went back after I woke and continued the movie. But even then, it didn't seem to get any better. Sorry Disney folks, but I guess you can't win them all.

Press Release: The Aristocats (Special Edition)

The Aristocats Special Edition, the beloved animated musical adventure about a pampered Parisian housecat and an irrepressible alley cat who join forces to foil a diabolical petnapping plot, comes to DVD on February 5, 2008 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. New digitally enhanced picture and sound, plus exclusive bonus materials, will have kids and collectors lined up to own this heartwarming Disney classic.

Veteran Disney director Wolfgang Reitherman (The Jungle Book, Winnie The Pooh and The Blustery Day, Robin Hood) helms a high energy mixture of wild adventure, colorful characters and toe tapping musical numbers. Feline heiress Duchess and her three darling kittens Toulouse, Berlioz & Marie are joined by a stellar cast of lovable animal friends, including Thomas O'Malley (aka the Alley Cat), Scat Cat, Roquefort the Mouse and the amusingly woozy goose, Uncle Waldo. The film features inspired performances from favorite Disney voice performers including Eva Gabor, Phil Harris and Sterling Halloway. Maurice Chevalier, who performs the opening song, came out of retirement especially for this film. The last film that Walt Disney put into production himself, The Aristocats brims with comedy, romance and joy.

The joint is jumping with jazz-inspired musical numbers from the legendary Sherman brothers, Academy Award® winners for Best Song (the unforgettable “Chim Chim Cheree," from Mary Poppins). "Ev'rybody Wants to be a Cat," "Scales and Arpeggios" and "Thomas O'Malley Cat" will have the whole family singing along time after time!

There is a brand new virtual kitten game, a fun learning activity, plus a nostalgic behind-the-scenes featurette that showcases the music of the immortal Sherman brothers as well as other entertaining bonus features, The Aristocats Special Edition is the purr-fect treat for the whole family! The Aristocats Special Edition is priced at $29.99 in the U.S., and $36.99 in Canada.

All New Bonus Materials

  • Never-Before-Seen Deleted song
  • Games and Activities: Disney Virtual Kitten ROM, English Read-Along – The Aristocats
  • Disney Song Selection
  • Bonus Short – “Bath Day” a cartoon short from 1946 featuring Figaro
  • Backstage Disney: The Aristocats Scrapbook

Duchess (Eva Gabor) and her three adorable kittens, Berlioz, Marie and Toulouse, hit the jackpot when their eccentric Paris millionairess owner bequeaths them her entire estate. Their life of luxury is cut short, however, when the mistress’s greedy butler Edgar plots to inherit the fortune himself by absconding with the little feline family and abandoning them far from home. Lost in the French countryside, they meet a rough-and-tumble, big-hearted tomcat named Thomas O'Malley (Phil Harris), who takes them under his wing and introduces them to his life as a jazzy bohemian hepcat, before he helps them find their way back to the Paris. Musical numbers from Academy Award winning team of Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman (Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book and The Tigger Movie) keep spirits high in this delightfully droll animated adventure.

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