Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Top Cat: The Movie - not quite as tip top as I remembered it

Can a total lack of crime be achieved without creating a totalitarian and surveillance regime that also sucks the fun out of society? That's one of the questions asked by the Mexican-Argentinian resurrection of Hanna Barbera classic cartoon Top Cat.

Unfortunately one of the other questions the film asks is whether a rights owner should ever licence out a format without more rigorous quality control over the script and the animation.

It's great to hear the familiar theme tune at the start of the film and see Top Cat travel through New York in style on his way to scavenge and con. The fake Sheik jokes are good. But then the plot kicks in.

Lou Strickland is the new police chief. Corrupt to the core, he's replacing all the officers - except one - with computers and robots. Ever-bumbling Office Dibble is being kept on to keep the technology running. Strickland's first mission is to disrupt TC's grifting and crime.

As the story unfolds we see how Benny, Choo, Fancy Fancy, Spook and Brain survive without the leader of the gang? And can effectual Top Cat reinvent himself to come out on top in a new environment?

Thirty years on from watching the cartoon on a black and white television, the criminality of Top Cat is more noticeable. He's no Robin Hood, and his charity always begins at home.

While the film ticks boxes by including a love interest and a smattering of modern gadgets, it was ultimately disappointing. (TINY SPOILER: The screen blacks out for a couple of seconds while there's a solar eclipse - coincidently while Benny tries to think - which fails to get a laugh.)

It's better than the dreadful Chipmunk films, partly because it's unlikely to spark a series of follow-up movies. And on a wet afternoon, it was a harmless way to combine some reminiscence with keeping warm in the Newry Omniplex (who need to do something about the distracting fuzzy edges of the projection onto the screen). But don't rush to see it.

Our three £3.50s could have funded the purchase of the complete box set of the original Top Cat cartoon episodes!

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