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Considering Disney's recent track record, it would appear that they think the average kid is maturing faster than before. Thus, they seem to put out movies that are dark and inappropriate for the average kid. The only exceptions to this trend are the wonderful Toy Story movies and A Bug's Life. Flash back a decade or two, and you'll find a different Disney, a Disney that made movies everybody could enjoy. Aristocats comes from that era. True the animation from this decade is weak, and the story loses a few points in some areas. The villain is also quite tame. All of that, however, disappears under the movie's charm, upbeat attitude, and general fun. It's certainly more fun than Hercules. People looking for something intense should avoid this. Families with small children and those who love adorable cats will love this movie. From this era, I also recommend Robin Hood. As I've said before, you just can't beat old school Disney.
I'm so glad that Disney made this film. I much prefer the more innocent Disney movies of the past. Movies like Lady and the Tramp and The Aristocats are truly fun, wholesome entertainment. Don't get me started on the new Disney films which are way too interested in pushing hit pop songs and attracting adults with more action, violence, and suggestive dialogue. I know things can't stay the same so I'm glad we have this film from a more innocent era. I particularly like the fact that the pacing is relaxed and the villain is not very scary. I'm always looking for what I call "calm" movies and videos for my 2 and a half year old. I don't want him seeing frightening or fast-paced images. Lady and the Tramp and Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas are other great shows for young viewers. Unlike the sterile environment of the Teletubbies, these movies are full of wonderful images and interesting music. I find the backdrop drawings extremely interesting and stylized. I also like the setting of the film (France) as opposed to the mainly exotic locations lately of Disney films.
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There are over a hundred reviews for The Aristocats as of this date. They all refer to the previous edition (Disney Gold Classic Edition or whatever they called it years ago when it first came out on dvd). So now we will have those reviews mixed up with new reviews for the Feb 5, 2008 version which offers more extras and a different aspect ratio. This may make things a bit confusing.
Moving on... People compare this film to 101 Dalmations. This is Disney's "cat" movie, they say. You can't compare them; they're too similiar somehow. But they are both decent, cute family films. Yes, Cruella is scary compared to the bumbling butler Edgar. There is a sense of jeopardy but Dalmations is much stronger in that sense. Both films were made using the 1960's Xerox method where the resulting animation is more sketchy looking and more close to the original animator's drawings. The Aristocats is more of a musical, definitely. A few forgettable songs, but also the charming and infectious tune "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat". That is the tune I think of when I remember the adventures of Duchess and Thomas and the kittens. (101 Dalmations had the little "Cruella De Vil" song, but that's it.)
Overall this is a fun vehicle but it is not a classic such as Peter Pan, Cinderella, or Lady and the Tramp. It has a nice, relaxing pace and is probably most appealing to youngsters. The voice talent, as ever with Disney cartoon features, is great. Eva Gabor's Duchess is warm and maternal while Phil Harris as Thomas O'Malley is macho yet sweet (and sounds like a lifelong diehard smoker). He also lent his vocal prowess to The Jungle Book when he played Baloo the bear.
This special edition for 2008 has some cute extras. But unless you're a total stickler for aspect ratios or you collect every version they release, the previous edition should suffice. It was fine, with a clear and bright picture/sound presentation.
This movie is in the old Disney fashion. This would never win an academy award but for that reason it makes a great movie for little kids. Unlike the Disney movies of the past decade, violence is very minimal to almost non-existant. The "villain" in this movie - a greedy but likable butler - is baffoonish and not prone to causing nightmares. All the music is fun and upbeat. Lots of sassy talking animals. The humor and tone is very similar to Disney's Robin Hood - another movie for good clean fun. My 2 year old LOVES the Aristocats.
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With all of the violent cartoons out today, we looked long and hard for something like Aristocats to share with our daughter. She is sensitive to angry voices and loud noises so it was difficult to find a movie or cartoon that she could enjoy without having to skip the violent or noisy scenes. Aristocats is such a perfect little show for her to watch over and over, she now knows all of the songs, imitates the kittens and runs through the house calling "Duchess, kittens, where are you??" If you want your child to enjoy Disney classics without the witches and mean-spirited people, or worse, the later movies with violence and loud, angry voices throughout, this is the best chance you have to show your child the lighter, gentler side of Disney.