The Aristocats Review
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Disney’s 1970 musical animated classic, The Aristocats, tells the story of a family of cats—Duchess (Eva Gabor) and her three kittens, Marie (Liz English), Toulouse (Gary Dubin), and Berlioz (Dean Clark)—who live a pampered life with their owner, Madame Bonfamille (Hermione Baddeley), in Paris in 1910.

When Madame decides it’s time to write her will, her faithful butler, Edgar (Roddy Maude-Roxby) overhears her plan. He’ll inherit everything—but only after he cares for her beloved felines for the rest of their lives. Worried that the cats will outlive him (cats do have nine lives, after all), Edgar decides to catnap Duchess and the kittens and dump them in the country, never to be seen again. Fortunately for Duchess and the kittens, though, they meet Thomas O’Malley (voiced by Disney regular Phil Harris)—a smooth, street-smart alley cat who might just be able to help them find their way back home.

Like other older Disney animated films (Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, or Robin Hood, for example), The Aristocats isn’t a flashy, fast-paced movie. It moves along at a relaxed pace, telling its simple story and introducing viewers to all kinds of lovable characters along the way. Though the story isn’t necessarily solid (apparently, it never occurred to Edgar to wait until after Madame is out of the picture to get rid of her beloved pets), this Disney classic still has so much to offer.

The best thing about The Aristocats is its lovable characters. The kittens, especially, are absolutely adorable—each with his or her unique personality. And Gabor couldn’t have been more perfectly cast as their high-society mom. There are plenty of others, too—like Roquefort (Sterling Holloway), the concerned mouse, the prissy English goose sisters and their inebriated uncle, and Scat Cat (Scatman Crothers) and his whole jazzy band. Even Edgar, the story’s villain, is likeable in his own bumbling way.

Then, of course, there’s the music. The Aristocats has all of the memorable tunes that fans expect from a Disney classic. From the classy French opening number by Maurice Chevalier to O’Malley’s theme song to the jazzy “Ev’rybody Wants To Be a Cat,” they’re songs that are sure to have you singing along.

And, finally, there’s the animation. Though The Aristocats has been criticized for its inferior animation, the new digital transfer helps to bring the film to life—from Madame’s beautiful mansion to the scenic streets of Paris. The somewhat subdued animation may not be Disney’s best, but thanks to the vibrant touch-ups, you’ll fall in love with its French scenery.

With its memorable music and a cast of lovable characters, The Aristocats is definitely a Disney classic that’s worth re-watching. And, thanks to its simple story and its not-so-villainous villain, it’s perfect for sharing with young Disney fans.

Blu-ray Review:
Disney special edition releases are almost always filled with behind-the-scenes extras—and if you love the music of Disney’s The Aristocats, you won’t want to miss the special features included on the film’s Blu-ray release. On the special features menu, you’ll find a number of deleted songs, all introduced (and often even sung) by enthusiastic songwriter Richard M. Sherman—who, along with his late brother, Robert, wrote many of Disney’s beloved songs. The songs are presented with original sketches and storyboards—and sometimes even original recordings—so they’ll also give you a peek inside the animation process.

The disc also includes a number of classic extras, including The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocats of Disney, a short feature in which Richard and Robert Sherman discuss their work on the music of The Aristocats. In addition to the Disney Song Selection feature, which allows you to jump to your favorite songs in the movie, you’ll also find a bonus short, “Bath Day,” featuring Minnie Mouse’s pet cat, Figaro, as well as an excerpt from 1956’s The Great Cat Family, a fun and educational animated feature on cats, which is introduced and narrated by Walt Disney himself.

But that’s still not all of the extras you’ll find in this two-disc collection. You’ll find even more games and extras on the DVD disc. There’s a little bit of something here for viewers of every age and interest. So if you love The Aristocats—or classic Disney animation in general—you’ll want to take the time to browse through the film’s extras.

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