Top Cat: A shadow of TC’s former self

by Michelle McGlynn

Most of us have fond memories of sitting on the floor watching Top Cat when we were children. Hanna-Barbera just knew how to make a good cartoon. The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and Scooby-Doo were among the favourites. All three of them have been turned into major motion pictures in recent years and now it appears it is Top Cat’s turn to suffer the same fate.

Our favourite mischievous feline TC has been brought into a modern day New York City. Technology is abound with cell phones, computers and robots everywhere you look. The technology is also the basis of the thinly streched plot. Lou Strickland has managed to con his way into the role of Police Chief, a job that Officer Dibble desperately wanted himself. Once in this position of power, Strickland first seeks to prove his abilities by doing what Dibble never could: locking up TC for good. Strickland does this by fabricating evidence linking TC to a robbery at the orphanage. After he is locked up in Dog Prison, Strickland begins his reign of terror over the city. He introduces an army of robot cops, enforces a curfew and places surveillance cameras literally everywhere. Can Dibble and TC faithful gang break TC out and save their city or will technology and greed win out?

The surprising thing about this film is that it is not backed by a big studio. Instead, the film was funded by Spanish and Mexican distributors. Initially Top Cat was in Spanish and has since been re-dubbed, which assumedly is the reason for how out of sync it can be at times. The lack of budget is evident in the 3D and the over saturated colour of the animation. The only thing Top Cat has in common with its above mentioned predecessors is that is equally disappointing.

Despite the fact that the original television series only amounted to thirty episodes, Top Cat has managed to build a strong and loyal audience. This film does not target this potentially large audience. Unlike many ‘children’s’ films nowadays there is nothing in the plot or dialogue that appeals to the older audience members. This also alienates the majority of the potential young audience as they have become accustomed to a much higher standard of film. There is not much in this film that would hold a child’s attention, except perhaps the very young members of the audience.

All of the things that made Top Cat such a fan favourite are glaringly absent from this film. The series had fun and hijinx by the truck load whereas the film is likely to make you comatose. TC was always a trickster and a ne’er-do-well but he was charming, smart and could talk his way out of any situation with finesse and a swagger. All of these traits are missing from this modern day TC. Instead his character is flat and does not retain any of the character that made him so lovable.

I do not recommend going to see this, not even with children. They will not be entertained and neither will you. For fans of Top Cat I suggest microwaving some popcorn and watching the old episodes on YouTube. Once you hear that unforgettable theme song you will think you are five years old all over again.

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