Top Cat: The Movie
Unfaithful to the original cartoon but this adaptation still retains a cheeky charm
Also known as Boss Cat during his regular BBC television outings, to avoid giving advertising to a popular brand of cat food, Top Cat remains one of the most fondly remembered characters in cartoon history. Despite living in a dustbin in an alleyway, Top Cat is notable for his snappy sense of sartorial elegance and his anti-authority sentiments; his good-natured battle with policeman Officer Dibble reflects those of another wily TV character, Phil Silvers’ Sergeant Bilko, on whose show the Hanna-Barbera cartoon was clearly modeled.
Coming after annoyingly CGI-heavy revivals for Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear, Top Cat: The Movie takes a refreshingly old-school approach, with a simple 2D transfer that renders TC and his gang, Benny, Chooch, Fancy Fancy and Brains all clearly recognisable. What’s different is the story: rather than the small-scale shenanigans of pulling the wool over Officer Dibble’s eyes, Alberto Mar’s Mexican production, outsourced by Warner Brothers, sees TC thrown into in an epic yet formulaic sci-fi scenario in which he leads his team into combat against an evil robot army, with the love of his sweetheart Trixie (Melissa Disney) at stake.
It’s an unfaithful scenario which might cause dedicated fans of the original 1960s series to pop on an eye-mask and run for cover to their trashcans, and yet Top Cat: The Movie actually plays reasonably well in updating to a world of smart-phones and video-conferencing, remodeling Top Cat as a representative of old school values in the face of pervasive faceless technology. Providing voices for most of the characters, Jason Harris offers a poor imitation of the great originals, and yet adults looking for undemanding fare for their kids may find Top Cat’s brand of sass, irreverence and cheeky charm offer a persuasive alternative to today’s crasser children’s entertainments.
General release from Fri 1 June.