Flashback Review: Cats Don’t Dance (WB’s Flops Vol. 1 #12)

Salutations fellow movie goers from across the globe. Today’s “Flashback Review” is about a cat (yes really) named, Danny who tries to make a name for himself in Hollywood as an actor. He attempts to overcome obstacles with a bigoted child star who’s prejudiced against taking animals & her massive bodyguard. Danny befriends with a few animals who also want to be Hollywood big shots. The premise I’m referring to is none other than “Cats Don’t Dance.”

Cats Don’t Dance was released in 1997. (same year Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights came out) It received positive reviews from critics. Although it earned good reactions, the film however, failed to make a profit at the box office. The reason why it never made enough cash, was because Turner Entertainment were too cheap to advertise the film after “The Tom & Jerry Movie” & “The Pagemaster” were notorious flops.

With the highly anticipated movie, “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood slated to come out in July 26th, (three days after my birthday) I’d like to share what’s good or about Cats Don’t Dance. What to these two have in common? They’re both set in a specific time period in Hollywood with the main character trying to make a name of himself.

Today’s review doesn’t feature any very important SPOILERS. If you haven’t got a chance to see the movie, feel free to read my non-spoiler article. Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic already did his take on Cats Don’t Dance, I’ll try my best not to steal his material.

Positive & Negative Elements

Positive: The Main Cast such as Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, John Rhys-Davies, Kathy Najimy, Hal Holbrook & the late Don Knotts all did a great job for their respective voiceover performances.

Humor is has some good laughs, especially from Darla Dimple, the main antagonist. She deserves Bonus Points as one of the best animated villains to ever exist.

Animation is pretty darn good yet it still holds up for a hand-drawn 2-D animated film.

Mark Dindal (The Emperor’s New Groove) did a great job directing the movie.

Randy Newman wrote musical dance numbers. He took Gene Kelly’s notes on how to properly conduct a big number.

Darla Dimple is an obvious parody of Shirley Temple. She’s basically a psychotic version of Jojo Siwa.

In addition to directing, Mark Dindal also voiced Darla’s henchman named, Max. He bears a striking resemblance to Robert Barone from “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

“Barton Fink” is referenced under a punny name labeled, “Farley Wink.” The Coen Brothers’ film is set during The Golden Age Of Hollywood.

Characters speaking dialogue rapidly is a tribute to “His Girl Friday,” one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movies.

Leo The Lion (MGM mascot) is parodied with an elephant as a stand-in for an opening logo.

L.B. Mammoth is named after real life co-founder of MGM, Louie B. Mayer.

Whenever Sawyer suffers from slapstick situations, it’s an obvious reference to “Tom & Jerry” when the former character is frequently injured by anything in his way other than Jerry.

A penguin tap dancing foreshadows WB’s “Happy Feet.”

Cats Don’t Dance parallels real life racism at the time Hollywood was prejudiced against racial groups. Talking Animals are a metaphor for non-white struggling actors rejected by Hollywood & society back when racism was bad at the time & it is still wrong today. Don’t worry folks, the movie isn’t an “in your face” social commentary as in Rose Tico’s monologue from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

The film is a precursor to “Sing,” which is also about taking animals trying to make a name for themselves.

A bigoted antagonist & butler predates Calvin Candie & Stephen from “Django Unchained.” Darla Dimple & Max were the original pair before the other two existed. Something tells me Quentin Tarantino borrowed elements from Cats Don’t Dance, because he’s a major cinephile.

The film is basically a throwback to musicals from The Golden Age Of Hollywood recreating the time period of The 1930’s with celebrities appearing as caricatures, characters speaking their dialogue rapidly, color palettes matching technicolor among other significant details.

The film takes place in the year 1939. The exact same year “The Wizard Of Oz” & “Gone With The Wind” came out.

Before he died, Gene Kelly contributed to the film uncredited, organizing dance numbers as a consultant. The film is dedicated to him.

Negative: An early romance unintentionally happened. I dislike the fact two people immediately fall in love without each person getting to know one another before a relationship is properly established. It’ll take a week or two for a two individuals to gain information prior to becoming a couple.

An optional con showing two actors dressed as “Batman & Robin.” Why did I list this as a negative element? Because that god awful Batman movie with Mr. Freeze was horrendously bad it gave me flashbacks on how stupid it was portraying The Caped Crusader’s image nearly destroyed an iconic superhero, until Christopher & Jonathan Nolan defibrillated Batman’s status.

The Final Verdict: A-

Cats Don’t Dance is surprisingly good. Every single aspect minus the premature romance has a bunch of pros as a reason why it is an underrated masterpiece. If you’re interested in watching Cats Don’t Dance, I highly recommend it for everybody who has yet to see it.

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