The Aristocats – Special Edition (Disney DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Film: C+
but definitely no wow. The Aristocats is another ‘classic’
Disney animated feature that has been recently re-released on DVD. The film originally premiered in theaters in
December of 1970 and was a moderate success.
The twentieth release from Disney Studios (actually distributed by Buena
Vista in theaters) is probably one of the most lackluster and forgettable
Disney animated, musical ventures. This
is the second release of The Aristocats
on the DVD format (first appearing in the Disney
Gold Collection Series) and overall is not anything improved over the past
release. Besides a few added extras and
a tiny bit (very tiny bit) of restoration, this new release is nothing to write
home to momma cat about.
premise surrounding this feline inspired romp is that an old, rich and retired
opera singer has stipulated in her will that upon her death all of her assets
will go to her beloved butler Edgar; if and only if her adored four cats live
to their natural lifespan (apparently 12 years each). The four cats are a mother cat named Duchess
(Eva Gabor) and her three kittens Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse. Overhearing this cat-astrophic news, Edgar
decides that if he were to follow the old-bag’s will and testament he would
never get to see his inheritance; this only being because the dimwitted butler
thinks cats each have 9 lives at 12 years each.
Edgar decides if he ever wants to see his fortune he will have to take
matters into his own hands and dispose of the lock on his future wealth, the
cats. In the middle of the night Edgar
drugs the cats with sleeping pills, scoops them up in a sack, and plans to toss
them in the river. Before Edgar has the
opportunity to dispose of the cats two farm dogs, Napoleon and Lafayette,
thinking Edgar is an intruder bite him right down to his knickers and scare him
off; leaving behind his motorcycle sidecar, an umbrella, his hat, and of course
momma cat and her kittens soon find a friend in the charming and worldly stray
named Thomas O’Malley. The cats all
together begin to travel back to the mansion, on the way stopping to have a
fantastical musical adventure with some friends of Thomas O’Malley’s like Skat
Cat who are smitten with Jazz; meanwhile Edgar sets out to retrieve his lost
belongings before the police can. The
adventure home continues while Adelaide Bonfamille (old rich lady) continues to
worry. Will Edgar get caught? Do the cats
find their way home? Does Disney need to
keep releasing these titles? The answer
to all of these questions lies in this new DVD release, and this reviewer is
not about to let the cat out of the bag.
technical features of this single disc special edition are like the film
itself, in that they are nothing fantastic.
The picture quality is dark and gritty in its 1.75 X 1 aspect ratio
(original to the film) and its enhancement for 16 X 9 televisions. The imperfections are still clear, the colors
are all over the place and seem to bounce, which is highly unacceptable for a
film that was issued and produced in three-strip dye-transfer Technicolor and
for a digital Disney transfer it is just simply bad quality. The
Aristocats next release probably will be seen on Blu-ray alone, but if
these imperfections aren’t fixed TOTALLY for the higher definition format it
may leave viewers scratching up the wall.
is not quite as bad as the picture in its Dolby Digital 5.1 surrounds, but to
this reviewer he could barely hear the use of the surrounds and felt more like
a 2.0 stereo release. The music of The Aristocats was never top notch to
begin with (sorry Sherman Bros.) and with the poor sound quality, it only makes
the bland soundtrack even more obvious.
The extras, as with most Disney Special Editions (not Platinum), are
mostly directed at children offering up an array of virtual pet games and a
dreadfully boring language game. The
more adult features include a look at a couple deleted songs with minimal
commentary and a look at the history of cats featurette; both lackluster and
forgettable. The Aristocats is one of the more disappointing Disney releases in
recent times and has always been one of the lesser Disney animated features.
step child of a Disney film took a while to get re-released on DVD and for good
reason; it is bland and forgettable at the same time. The ode to old, crazy, cat ladies thing just
didn’t work. There were moments here and
there to chuckle at and maybe even the occasional toe-tap to a song, but this
reviewer must cite the film as a miss.
There are more superior Disney films that could have done better with a
revisit, but The Aristocats was not
one of them.
- Michael P Dougherty II