The much-revered Hanna-Barbera cartoon Top Cat [originally aired between 1961 and 1962] gets a 21st century 3D makeover in this Mexican-made feature length outing. Our feline hero of old finds himself sent to Dog Jail [there's no room in Cat Jail] when he is framed for a crime he didn’t commit by Manhattan’s newly appointed chief of police: Strickland. Unfortunately Strickland turns out to be a megalomaniac of the highest order and Top Cat’s gang: Benny the Ball, Fancy Fancy, Choo Choo, Spook and Brains, alongside Officer Dibble, plot to break TC out of prison and overthrow the tyrant.
This film makes an admirable effort to remain true to the TV show that was beloved by so many. The jolly theme tune blares out, the voices are very similar to those of the original actors and there are a smattering of visual nods to the small screen opening sequence. The narrative, though lean in places, offers an upbeat, cheery adventure with lots of opportunity for slapstick gags that will no doubt have small children across the land chuckling away to themselves.
Regretably, however, that’s pretty much where the praise ends as Top Cat simply does not touch the high standards set by other animated films. It may delight tiny tots but it is likely to bore anyone appraoching double figures as it includes none of the layered humour we’ve come to enjoy from the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks.
Furthermore, Disney may have had their hits and misses over the years but few would argue that their work is, on the whole, aesthetically pleasing. This is not the case for Top Cat. The 3D was undoubtedly the worst I’ve ever witnessed at a screening. The image looked far from crisp and the way in which the camera jumped around from 3D character to 3D character offered little more than a slight feeling of sea-sickness.
Finally, the script just didn’t have the same spark as the earlier cartoon. The Top Cat characters were first inspired by those of the classic Phil Silvers TV show: Bilko and often featured similar plotlines and jokes. Anyone seeking out similarly quick-witted repartee from this Top Cat remake will be sorely disappointed.