×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cat’s Don’t Dance

Imbued with a traditional let's-put-on-a-show attitude, "Cats Don't Dance" is a snazzy but old-hat animated feature. Decked out with sharp and colorful design work, some well-drawn characters and six snappy Randy Newman tunes, this first entry from Turner Feature Animation goes down very easily but lacks a hook to make it anything other than a minor kidpic entry commercially. A brassy musical about a small-town hepcat who wants to make it big in movies, circa 1939, pic trades on Hollywood conventions that won't mean much to small fry, although they should be taken with the lively animal characters who here rep the film biz underclass, as well as with the wonderfully realized horrific child star.

With:
Voices: Danny ..... Scott Bakula Sawyer (speaking) ..... Jasmine Guy Sawyer (singing) ..... Natalie Cole Darla Dimple (speaking) ..... Ashley Peldon Darla Dimple (singing) ..... Lindsay Rideway Tillie ..... Kathy Najimy Woolie ..... John Rhys-Davies L.B. Mammoth ..... George Kennedy Flanigan ..... Rene Auberjonois Cranston ..... Hal Holbrook T.W. ..... Don Knotts Francis ..... Betty Lou Gerson Pudge ..... Matthew Herried Farley Wink ..... Frank Welker Bus Driver ..... David Johansen Max ..... Mark Dindal

Danny, a brimmingly confident cat from Kokomo, gets off the bus in front of the Chinese Theater with a plan to make it big in Hollywood within the week. Waltzing into an animals’ agency, he is immediately cast as one of the two cats in the Mammoth Pictures musical epic “Lil Ark Angel,” which stars the irrepressible Darla Dimple, who is Baby Jane incarnate. Also cast, against her will, is the agency’s pert feline secretary, Sawyer, a former dancer now skeptical of any four-legged critter’s hopes for bigscreen fame.

Danny gets on Darla’s bad side by stealing her limelight in a bit part, and becomes further dejected when informed by his fellow ark passengers that animals are forever doomed to steerage class in Hollywood. He is thus tremendously

buoyed when the scheming Darla offers to arrange for him and his friends to audition for studio head L.B. Mammoth himself.

However, the unsuspecting animals are foiled when Darla’s hulking valet Max, who looks like a cross between Erich von Stroheim and Mike Tyson, unleashes a torrent of special effects on the furry and feathered performers, literally washing them out of the studio. However, Danny has a final inspiration that enables him, with a nod to “Singin’ in the Rain,” to expose the wicked Darla for

what she is.

Director Mark Dindal, who has worked for Disney for the better part of the last decade, and his raft of story and screenwriters keep the short picture moving at a furious clip, and interest flags a bit only in the two extended

action sequences toward the end.

The character work is very good. Danny, energetically voiced by Scott Bakula, is somewhat conventionally conceived as a brash young whippersnapper, but Sawyer, a furry charmer beneath her slightly jaded coat, is a delectable creation, outstandingly drawn and voiced by Jasmine Guy and sung by Natalie Cole. Darla and Max make for excellent heavies, and some of the incidental

animal characters, including a music-loving old elephant who works as the figurehead for the Mammoth Pictures logo and a sweet little penguin named Pudge, are delightful.

Randy Newman’s songs are high-spirited fun, and the animation is distinguished by vibrant color schemes and strong, fine lines. But it’s a small, conventional story, not one that engages the imagination in a fresh or exciting

way.

The late Gene Kelly served as a mentor on the project, apparently helping with advice on the choreography design.

Preceding the film, at least in its firstrun engagements, is a new, eight-minute, singularly uninspired Looney Tunes short from Chuck Jones Prods., “Pullet Surprise,” featuring the large rooster Foghorn Leghorn.

Cat's Don't Dance

Production: A Warner Bros. release of a Turner Feature Animation presentation of a David Kirschner production. Produced by Kirschner, Paul Gertz. Executive producers, David Steinberg, Charles L. Richardson, Sandy Russell Gartin. Co-producers, Jim Katz, Barry Weiss. Directed by Mark Dindal. Screenplay, Roberts Gannaway, Cliff Ruby, Elana Lesser, Theresa Pettengill, story by Rick Schneider, Robert Lence, Dindal, Brian McEntee, David Womersley, Kelvin Yasuda

Crew: Editor, Dan Molina; music, Steve Goldstein; songs, Randy Newman; art direction, McEntee; Dolby digital sound; associate producer, Bill Bloom; assistant director, Michael Serrian; casting, Judy Taylor, Lynda Gordon. Reviewed at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, March 19, 1997. MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: Voices: Danny ..... Scott Bakula Sawyer (speaking) ..... Jasmine Guy Sawyer (singing) ..... Natalie Cole Darla Dimple (speaking) ..... Ashley Peldon Darla Dimple (singing) ..... Lindsay Rideway Tillie ..... Kathy Najimy Woolie ..... John Rhys-Davies L.B. Mammoth ..... George Kennedy Flanigan ..... Rene Auberjonois Cranston ..... Hal Holbrook T.W. ..... Don Knotts Francis ..... Betty Lou Gerson Pudge ..... Matthew Herried Farley Wink ..... Frank Welker Bus Driver ..... David Johansen Max ..... Mark Dindal

More Film

  • WGA Awards 2019 Winners

    WGA Awards 2019: Bo Burnham Wins Original Screenplay Award for 'Eighth Grade'

    In a stunning upset, Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade” from the Writers Guild of America. He credited star Elsie Fisher for his winning the award. Burnham won over Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”; Adam McKay’s “Vice”; Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”; and Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content