The first 15 minutes of The Aristocats were a pain to get through. They are harmless enough, but it has some of the things that I dislike the most: a rich and crazy cat lady that wants to leave her fortune to her pets, a greedy interloper, and utterly pointless comedy relief. I was seriously considering turning off the movie, but after those few minutes things actually get better.
When the movie focuses on Duchess, Thomas, and the kitties, it is actually pretty great. There is a strong emotional core, interesting characters, a couple of naughty jokes, and some truly great music. The emotional core comes from the relationship between the kitties and Thomas O’Malley. There isn’t much interaction between them, but much like in The Jungle Book, the work of the animators, as well as the voice performance by Phil Harris make the relationship work. Granted, Harris’s work is not as great as his previous voiceover performance as Baloo, but still he brought the coolness needed for the character. And the music is pretty great. “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” is still stuck in my head.
But as good as these segments with the cats were, there are plenty of flaws that barely keep this movie in the bottom of the good Disney movies up to this point. The biggest problem of them all is the villain Edgar. He is a pretty good villain, because, who would want to hurt kitties. The problem is that he is in the movie way too much. All that was needed of him were the scenes in the beginning and the scenes in the end. We didn’t need to see him in the middle talking to the horse about how evil he is because those scenes amount to nothing. And actually I kind of pitied him. How can you not go mad when you find out that you could inherit a huge fortune, but only after some cats inherit it. Anyways, the second biggest problem comes from Edgar’s scenes in the middle: the unnecessary characters. As great as Sterling Halloway is as the mouse, his character here is not needed. There is a scene where he stows away in Edgar’s bike when he tries to recoup some things he left behind in the scene of the crime. What was the point of that? He doesn’t even show up during this scene! But like I said, this scene amounts to nothing. Also, what was with the psycho, man-eating dogs?
There are more bad things in this than good. But those good things are so great, that I can’t help but say that I truly enjoyed this movie.