See it in Bristol Watershed's 30 hours
Briefly known as 'Boss Cat' in this country to avoid confusion with a cat food brand, 'Top Cat' remains one of Hanna-Barbera's most popular TV cartoon series. They only made 30 episodes, but these have rarely been off our screens since the early 60s and can now be seen on the Cartoon Network. But if TC (as his "intellectual close friends" call him) was big here, he was absolutely bloody enormous in Mexico and South America. That's why this belated big-screen outing is a Mexican-Argentinean co-production. It came out there last year and has only now been dubbed into English for UK release.
Expectations are naturally low given the dismal quality of most film adaptations of Hanna-Barbera classics. Who remembers 'Tom and Jerry: The Movie', or can forgive 2010's appalling live action/CGI 'Yogi Bear'? But despite being in modish, rather pointless 3D, 'Top Cat' starts off rather well. The relatively cheap flash animation isn't too far removed from the original hand-drawn style, there's been no attempt to tinker with the character design, and the opening scene gently tweaks the TV show's title sequence. Refreshingly, there's also no stunt voice casting to distract us from the antics of the Phil Silvers-inspired, wise-cracking, hustling New York alley cat and his gang's antics as they repeatedly get one over on the hapless Officer Dibble. Alas, it's all downhill from there, with a rather formulaic story about a sinister new police chief who introduces a robocop army. Endless references to the internet, GPS and smartphones are shoehorned in, as if the producers are terrified that today's kids demand continuous references to the modern world. Only occasionally does the old TC magic surface, such as the moment when our feline hero finds himself in Dog Jail, where he saves his furry skin by talking toothy canine foe Griswald into believing he's a 'closet cat'. "My poor wife!" wails the dumb mutt.
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