out of Five
Running time: 90
Likeable animated comedy that makes an impressive attempt to recapture the spirit of the original cartoons and provides a handful of decent laughs, though some of the jokes are a bit dodgy, the 3D effects are entirely superfluous and younger children might be a little bored.
What's it all about?
Directed by Alberto Mar, Top Cat – The Movie is a Mexican produced big screen revival of the popular Hanna Barbera cartoon, which ran for 30 episodes between 1961 and 1962 and has enjoyed healthy reruns ever since. When smooth talking feline con-artist Top Cat (voiced by Jason Harris) is framed by power mad con-man-turned-police chief Strickland (also Jason Harris), his loyal gang of alley cats – including Benny The Ball (Chris Edgerly), Choo Choo (Harris again), Spook (Ben Diskin), Fancy Fancy (Matthew Piazzi) and Brain (Harris again) - have to try and break him out of jail, so they enlist the aid of Top Cat's bumbling nemesis, Officer Dibble (Bill Lobley).
If you're of a certain age, you may be aghast at the very idea of anyone “reviving” Hanna Barbera's much loved classic and imagining all manner of horrors as a result. Happily however, unlike with, say the Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear movies, the filmmakers have gone out of their way to retain both the spirit and the sound of the original cartoons, with exceptional voice work from Jason Harris (who also voice directed the American dub) and impressive performances from the rest of the cast. They even keep the original theme tune, rather than chucking in a version recorded by Justin Bieber or something.
The script is by no means purr-fect, but director Alberto Mar keeps things ticking along at a decent pace and no film that includes both a gorilla and some comedy robots can be all bad. In fact, there are several amusing throwaway lines (effectively “robot ad-libs”) as well as a handful of very clever gags and nods to the original cartoons, most notably a joke involving Dibble's alleyway phone.
That said, it's also fair to note that several of the jokes fall flat (there's an over-reliance on Brain and/or Benny being stupid), while one extended routine about a cat (or rather a dog believing he's a cat – don't ask …) in a dog's prison veers into very dodgy territory and should probably have been rewritten. On top of that, some of the character updates (Spook is now a Californian surfer dude rather than a 60s “hep cat”) don't really work and the 3D effects are completely superfluous, especially since the film goes out of its way to retain the firmly 2D style of the original cartoons.
This is an entirely watchable animated comedy that's by no means the travesty Top Cat purists might have feared, thanks to likeable characters and impressive voice work. Younger children might be a little bored, but at least their parents won't resent being dragged to see it.
Top Cat - The Movie (U)