Volume 90, Issue 81

Tuesday, February 18, 1997



Disney cat is out of the bag

That Darned Cat
Starring Christina Ricci, Doug E. Doug and Elvis the Cat
Directed by Bob Spiers
At Famous Players 6, 7 and 9 p.m.

Well, here we go again. Yet another remake of an old Disney classic.

If you have trouble remembering the original That Darn Cat (the '90s version has added a past tense to the title), you can be forgiven.

It was during a low point for Disney in the mid '70s and starred Dean Jones. Jones did a string of Disney pictures and returns for a cameo role in the remake.

I suppose Disney has to do something with all these stars on contract, so why not try reviving a few mediocre films and changing some animated features into live action (Pinocchio with Jonathan Taylor-Thomas) or vice versa (101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close). Odds are Disney will make money in a market where parents are all too eager for the next mindless but harmless feature to plunk in front of the video-raised kids of the '90s.

I brought a couple videos for my nephews who had already seen the original Dean Jones version of That Darn Cat and they seemed to enjoy the film. But then again, they seem to enjoy just about any film. Questioning them further, I discovered what they really liked were the explosions added into the new version. Very cool, they thought. And that's about it. Were the film on video, they'd just rewind that part and play through it a few dozen times and be done.

The plot, of course, is familiar. A maid (Dyan Cannon as a plastic surgery addict) is mistaken for her rich employer and is kidnapped and held for ransom in an unknown location. Feline D.C. (Elvis the Cat) stumbles upon the hideout and the desperate maid slips her wristwatch around his neck with the word 'Hell' scratched onto the back (three guesses at what she was trying to spell). Anyway, the cat's owner, Patti Randall (Christina Ricci of The Addams Family) discovers the watch and takes it to the FBI where a rookie agent, Zeke Kelso, played by Doug E. Doug (Cool Runnings) is put on the case. Zeke decides to tail the cat in hopes it will return to the scene of the crime.

The film has a tendency to drag and the performances are bland. Doug provides some much-needed physical comedy, but too little too late to keep things interesting. Ricci is cute enough but her character is perpetually bored and, as a result, so are we. Elvis turns in a fine performance, but he was better before his reincarnation.

Part of the problem in making a family film lies in keeping it entertaining for the adults as well as for the children. This isn't nearly as difficult with animation since the visuals will mesmerize children even while the content is amusing the adults.

Live action fare, however, needs to be action-oriented in order to captivate young viewers and the more slapstick the better. Unfortunately, this cat could have used a little catnip; That Darned Cat is just too darned boring.

–Mark Johnston

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997