Top Cat

Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 01:00

Directed by Alberto Mar. Voices of Jim Conroy, Ben Diskin, Melissa Disney, Chris Edgerly G cert, general release, 90 min

HOORAY! AFTER 50 long years, we, on this side of the Atlantic, are finally able to call Top Cat by his proper name.

In the 1970s, a generation of British and Irish children not versed in copyright lawwere confused by a show that, due to litigation from the makers of a popular cat food, was forced to call itself Boss Cat. We’re still smarting.

Though it’s nice to see the social climber back in action, there’s not much else to celebrate in this strange, fussy Spanish film. Created in not-so-glorious flash animation, it stays fairly true to the original series. There are glimpses of smart phones, but the gang of cats still live in an alley that seems stranded in a rough post-war ghetto of New York City.

The show’s origins as a variation on Bilko remain conspicuous. Griswold the dog is angry. Officer Dibble is constantly outwitted. Top Cat is charming. His intellectual close friends still get to call him “TC”.

The film is, however, dragged down by crummy visuals and an absurdly complicated plot. The writers of Chinatown offered fewer twists and turns. It’s got something to do with a concert by a top violinist and – much to Dibble’s regret – plans to police New York with an army of robots.

For all that, a few faint cheers should be raised in celebration of the decision not to monkey around with the original formula. Don Gato y su Pandilla (its original title) is cheap, clumsy and chaotic. But it seems to have been made by people who adore the source material. Messieurs Hanna and Barbera need not swivel too violently in their graves.

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