TOP CAT: THE MOVIE (U)
A LITTLE goes a very long way.
Only 30 episodes of the cult Hanna-Barbera animated series Top Cat were made in the early 1960s but the colourful cartoon caper about a felonious feline and his moggy mates has enjoyed re-runs in the UK ever since.
Fifty years on, generations still thrill to the small screen exploits of TC and his gang as they run rings around bumbling Officer Dibble.
Those same fans should avoid Top Cat: The Movie, a risible Spanish-language animated feature, which has been dubbed into English for release on these shores.
Alberto Mar’s film couldn’t be more lifeless or soulless, pitting the most cunning cat in New York against a scheming mayor who plans to hold the city to hostage with his army of robotic police officers.
The characters remain largely faithful to the Hanna-Barbera designs but vocal performances are weak.
It certainly doesn’t help that Top Cat, two of his feline disciples and the film’s ineffectual villain are all voiced by Jason Harris, who struggles to differentiate between the characters in dialogue-heavy interludes.
Top Cat (voiced by Harris) and his buddies Benny (Chris Edgerly), Choo Choo (Harris), Fancy Fancy (Matthew Piazzi), Spook (Ben Diskin) and Brain (Harris) enjoy the run of Manhattan’s alleys, despite the best efforts of Officer Dibble (Bill Lobley) to thwart their scams.
Their latest ruse involves getting close to the visiting Maharaja of Pikachu, who is well known for giving away rubies as tips.
Top Cat and Benny don disguises and introduce themselves to the dignitary.
“This is my associate, Shabby Sheikh,” purrs TC, delivering what could be the script’s only joke.
Their antics are quickly curtailed by the new chief of police, Lou Strickland (Harris again), who installs CCTV cameras on every corner and mans the streets with automaton cops.
Consequently, TC and the gang have to adapt their cons, while the main cat pursues a date with Strickland’s sexy secretary, Trixie (Melissa Disney).
Top Cat: The Movie lacks the charm and madcap energy of the 1960s TV series, relying on our enduring love for the characters to blind us to gaping inadequacies on the big screen.
“What more does an alley cat need than good food and good friends?” chirps TC at one point.
A good script and good direction might be an idea because Mar is ill-equipped to juxtapose action, comedy and romance and entertain audiences of any age let alone parents and children alike.
The combination of simple 3D computer-animated backgrounds with flat 2D characters is nonsensical.
Visuals throughout are workmanlike and unfortunately there are obvious continuity errors, such as when Strickland tears up a cheque and the pieces of paper fall to the floor and disappear.
If only Mar’s film would vanish without trace too.
STAR RATING: **
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STAR RATING: **