The Aristocats Blu-ray Review
I never had any desire to watch THE ARISTOCATS growing up. I remember thinking that it was the same story as LADY AND THE TRAMP, except it showcased cats and I’m really more of a dog person. Plus, I never cared for jazz at the ripe old age of eight. Decades later, as I sat down to watch THE ARISTOCATS for the first time, I still think my initial judgement was correct on one level. Dutchess and Lady are the same. On the other hand, is it weird that I want to downloaded “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat?”
Dutchess (Eva Gabor) and her three kittens live in a lavish Parisian mansion. Even though they are the apple of their owner’s eye, it’s still quite a surprise when she decides to leave her entire fortune to her beloved felines. Her butler Roquefort (Sterling Holloway) feels cheated by the announcement and decides he will terminate the competition by kidnapping the cats and dropping them off in the French countryside.
Fortunately for Dutchess and the kittens, during their quest to return home, they meet Thomas O’Malley (Phil Harris) who teaches them how to survive the mean streets of Paris. His biggest coping mechanism? Jazz. Together with a literal band of alley cats, O’Malley teaches the foursome that it doesn’t matter where you came from. The important thing to remember is that you are of royalty simply because you’re lucky enough to be a cat.
THE ARISTOCATS is a mellow, smooth animation. Sure, there’s kidnapping involved by a bumbling villain, but the majority of the film is slow tempered and easy-going. Dutchess and the kittens never seem out of sorts that they are lost or that the butler tried to kill them. They aren’t afraid to embrace their modest surroundings and find certain comfort in the rich, tones of a saxophone. If they didn’t ultimately end up back home at the mansion, I could see them easily fitting in at the jazz club.
With that said, the lack of energy (during the non-musical sections) made the film feel sort of mundane and lethargic. Yes the jazz was fabulous, but other than finding their way home again, there wasn’t much of a storyline. Everything seemed easy breezy, which gave me little room to invest in the characters. Even if I did invest, did they care?
Another random detail was the decision to introduce jazz in the story to begin with. These cats are in Paris. Couldn’t Disney have easily set the story in New Orleans where a dominate jazz storyline makes more sense? It felt very disconnected. I was also distracted by the nagging feeling that I had heard Thomas O’Malley’s voice before. It felt very familiar. A quick Internet search confirmed that Phil Harris was also the voice of Baloo in THE JUNGLE BOOK, as well as Little John in ROBIN HOOD. Phil must have been quite the catch to utilize him three times in six years.
In the end, I think the kids will have many other movies that rate higher than THE ARISTOCATS on their Disney favorites list, but it’s still worth a rent and definitely worth listening to the soundtrack.
Video: I think ARISTOCATS was beautifully restored.
Audio: There were no scratchy sounds in the audio as I suspected. I loved the jazz.
The Lost Open (9:31): Deleted opening scene. About Elvira, the housemaid. And teh song, “How Much You Mean to Me.” The two Sherman brothers sing together in the demo. Galerie des Chats (the gallery of Cats. Fabulous collection of famous felines.
Oui Oui Marie Music Video (1:53): A music video by D!tto featuring the animation.
She Never Felt Alone deleted song (7:56): Sherman sings the excluded song while sitting at a piano with drawings surrounding him from the animation.
Classic Backstage Disney: The Sherman Brothers (4:24): Walt loved music. He always set the tone. He wanted a French flavor and the Sherman brothers delivered.
Classic Backstage Disney: The Great Cat Family (12:51): From the Wonderful World of Disney, this featurette is all about domestic cats and how the illustrators learn to draw them.
Classic Music (10:53): Videos of all the music selections in ARISTOCATS.
Bonus Short: Bath Day (6:40): Walt Disney classic short featuring domestic cat Fiegero.