Saturday, 10 May 2014

Ani-MAY-tion Month: Top Cat: The Movie (2011)

If you remember the original cartoon, and if you can still sing along with the theme song, then you should do yourself a favour and avoid Top Cat: The Movie. It's a stinker.

The plot concerns T.C. (voiced by Jason Harris) being framed for a crime he didn't commit and then being thrown into Dog Jail. The gang are at a bit of a loss without him, while Officer Dibble (Bill Lobley) is busy being mistreated by his new boss, Lou Strickland (Rob Schneider). Oh, and Strickland has also replaced the rest of the police force with robots, thinking that they can't be fooled. That may change if/when T.C. gets out of jail.

It's a running gag for many people that I am too kind in my movie reviews/ratings, and there's often some truth to that. I can be easily pleased, and I always try to look for the good in any project, especially anything made with more heart than technical nous. Top Cat: The Movie is a soulless, soul-sapping, lazy, horrible film. And that's me being kind. It's saved by the lowest score possible by a small degree of competence that I had to grudgingly acknowledge, but only just.

The animation is sub-par and quite ugly at times, which would be okay if it was ironically emulating the occasional crude style of the old TV show, but it isn't. It's also just feels cobbled together. For example, look at the scene with T.C. and his cohorts trying to get into a concert that has been sold out. Sold Out. It's stated quite clearly. Yet, moments later, when the gang are all inside, viewers can see a theatre that is quite clearly almost empty. Okay, that's not something that the youngest viewers will note, but there's no excuse for so little effort being made.

The script, in line with everything else, does the bare minimum - broadly sketching out the characters and lighting up each plot point like a neon sign - but it does it all with no sense of fun. Just because something is aimed at younger viewers doesn't mean that it can't contain some interesting developments for them.

The only good points I can mention are the vocal performances (which aren't great, but at least try to repeat the familiar tones of the characters from how people will remember them) and that small degree of competence that allows the whole thing to play out as a feature from start to finish, with a proper beginning, middle, and end.

One to avoid if at all possible. To use a potential innuendo: Top Cat hits bottom!


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