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Top Cat The Movie /Don Gato y su pandilla (3D)

2/10

Stars: Voices: Jason Harris, Bill Lobley, Ben Diskin, Melissa Disney, Chris Edgerly, Matthew Piazzi, Rául Anaya, Jorge Arvizu, Mario Castańeda Partido, Jim Conroy, Rolando de Castro

Director: Alberto Mar

The American animated TV series ‘Top Cat’, which was renamed ‘Boss Cat’ in Britain because ‘Top Cat’ was a real brand of pet food on sale in the UK and therefore could not be promoted (at least, not for free!) lasted for some 30 episodes on the small screen from 1961 to 1962. (And British politician George Galloway, referring to his feline appearance on a TV reality show, used the theme song as his signature tune for his phone-in programme on the British radio station Talk Sport).

Now, half a century after its birth and death, ‘Top Cat’ re-emerges, this time on the big screen and in painfully redundant (and not particularly effective) 3D.

ItÂ’s a Mexican movie thatÂ’s been dubbed into English.

Maybe the original version was bearable in Spanish. This version isn’t, being likely only to appeal (if it’s lucky) to extremely undemanding and tolerant youngsters and obsessively completist fans of the original. On any other level, it’s witless, largely laugh-free and simply puts the ‘Ow!’ in ‘miaow’.

The animation is basic and the attempt to re-establish TC and his gang (Benny the Ball, Fancy Fancy, Choo Choo, Spook and Brains) in contemporary New York settings doesnÂ’t come off well. The largely laugh-free screenplay hardly helps, as Top Cat and the rest go up against the menacing new Chief of Police who, along with robot cops, has replaced the felinesÂ’ familiar antagonist Officer Dibble.

The plotting is poor and predictable. What I did find particularly unlikely, though, was Top Cat going to hear a violin prodigy perform - IÂ’ve always assumed that violin strings were made of catgut and imagined a pussycat would avoid such music in sympathy with the feline whose intestines were being scraped for public entertainment. Maybe itÂ’s different in Mexico.

At one stage TC tells his followers that “We only steal from people who deserve to be stolen from”. Only a complete cynic would suggest this was also the motivation of the film’s makers.

Alan Frank

Mexico/Argentina/UK 2011. UK Distributor: Vertigo Films. Colour.
90 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 May 2012