My Review of "The AristoCats"
I'm currently getting a lesson in Disney films this was the first of many. Did anyone notice that one racist scene?
So my girlfriend subscribed to Disney plus mainly for herself but one of the reasons why was the fact that I honestly haven't ever seen a lot of Disney cartoons. I lived in a pretty poor household that had a huge variation in ages. When I was a kid there was no Disney cartoons we just played with kids in the backyard.
One of my girlfriend's favorite movies when she was a kid happened to be The AristoCats. I thought this was odd since it came out in 1970 which even predates me. This has to be a good thing because it must have survived the test of time. So I said yeah sure I'll give it a shot.
So I entered the wonderful world of Disney. I have to say Disney plus has really upgraded the film quality to fit high definition televisions. You can see pencil sketches in the drawings and minor mistakes because it's so crystal clear. This actually doesn't really hinder the movie though. Oddly enough this gives the movie even more style points.
The film is based in Paris and its art direction seems to fit the locale. It's cool how the artists were able to marry somewhat realistic looking landscapes and characters with some quite exaggerated cartoon characters. It's seamless and gorgeous to look at.
The story involves a family of cats: the mother cat Dutchess, the daughter Marie, and two sons Toulouse and Berlioz. They live in a huge mansion with a loving owner. The problem is that the owner is an elderly woman with no one to inherit her massive wealth. She inks out a will that will leave her entire estate to her loving cats. When the cats pass away the estate would go to her long serving butler, Edgar.
Edgar catches wind of this news and hatches a plan to get rid of the cats so that he can inherit the estate. He concocts a recipe for a soup that makes the cats fall asleep. As they fall into their deep sleep he drives them out into the country and leaves them there.
From there on the cat family has to find their way back by befriending other animals on the way. I sort of found a few similarities of this movie with Finding Nemo which came out decades after this movie. They are very different movies in their own right though.
This is a very charming movie and I understood why my girlfriend liked it. It's a visual feast with fantastic art and animation. It's got charismatic characters and very fun.
There was one thing that really caught my eye though. I know it was made in the 1970's so it was a different time and I know their intentions were good. I couldn't get over the crazy racist caricature of an Asian Siamese cat. As a Chinese person myself it really grabbed my attention. They had one of the cymbals fall on his head to look like a rice hat. He was playing the drums with chop sticks and he had really slanted eyes with buck rabbit teeth. It was extreme but to counter this I had to remember that he was one of O'Malley's close alley cat friends that had his back. I also had to consider that they're all cats and the song was about everyone wants to be a cat and they had caricatures of multiple races in there as alley cats. Still having the minority cats as alley cats and you have this white cat as the rich AristoCat had me scratching my head.
It was able to get over it because there wasn't a real evil intention in this movie to make Asians look bad. It was just having fun and it was a product of its time. I was still able to have a good time watching it despite the racist overtones of a specific scene. The thing is I'm not sure how this generation would take that scene with the sensitivity of how society is today.
Overall, the music, art and characters in this movie are genuinely charismatic and very inviting. Hand-drawn cartoons are pretty much extinct nowadays so going back to them and seeing them in high definition is certainly a delight. There is a lot of charm to this movie that people will be able to have fun with. The only problem I had with the movie was a certain scene that I thought had some racist overtones but the intent of the scene was definitely not bad. I have to give this movie a 7 out of 10. I don't think I would want to watch this movie again but I have to give credit where credit is due. It was a well made movie for its time.