THE ARISTOCATS has a lot going for it, but I wouldn’t consider it one of classic-era Disney’s best movies. It takes a little while to get started, and even once it does the story occasionally wanders with some weird pacing, leaving the main characters for random anecdotes and animals. As much as I love to see a drunk goose stumble around, the entire Uncle Waldo sequence, for example, failed to add anything of substance. It’s all enjoyable stuff, but for the sake of the story it could’ve used some tightening.
All its flaws are easy to overlook with the classical animation, which is as gorgeous as ever. The character designs are flawless, and just the entire weight and movement of the images bring life to the title animals in ways that are hard to match. The other thing that really works in the film is the music. The swingin’ jazz tunes have always given me fond feelings for THE ARISTOCATS, even when the plot itself was long forgotten. The whole Scat Cat sequence is such a joy to watch, even with the incredibly racist Siamese cat. Future SHINING victim Scatman Crothers is perfectly cast (in a role originally meant for Louis Armstrong), leaving you singing “Everybody’s a Cat” for days to come.
THE ARISTOCATS definitely feels very familiar in its story, themes and characters (almost like a feline version of LADY AND THE TRAMP), but that doesn’t really make the experience of watching it any less enjoyable for its audience, young and old.
Deleted Song (7:54): One of the film’s original songwriters hosts this look at an excised musical number that, along with original storyboards and recordings, illustrates the bond between pet and owner.
The Great Cat Family (12:50): An excerpt from an old TV program hosted by Walt Disney, which gives an animated history of the feline species.
The Sherman Brothers (4:23): A sit down with brothers Robert and Richard Sherman, the men responsible for all of the songs in the film.
Music and More (10:51): Jump to any of the songs and sing along with optional lyrics. Not really an extra, as much as it is glorified Scene Selection.
Bath Day (6:39): A cute cartoon short starring Minnie Mouse’s pet kitten Figaro, who really does not enjoy getting cleaned.
Games: A Virtual Kitten game, which gave me horrible flashbacks to that whole Tamagotchi craze, and a Fun with Language activity that teaches young ones the names of instruments.
There’s also a Scrapbook full of artwork and Previews, including a LITTLE MERMAID prequel subtitled ARIEL’S BEGINNING, which disappointingly isn’t just footage of her dad waterplowing her mom.
Extra Tidbit: THE ARISTOCATS II was in production for a 2007 release until Pixar took over and John Lasseter had those responsible summarily executed.