A watchable-enough children's film, Top Cat may work as a weekend family film with your children, though I'm not sure how many children would actually be interested in TC in the first place. Made in a manner which will remind you of the TV series, it is the kind of film that will just not hold the attention of the more fidgety young ones.
In India, you've really got to be a 90s child to know and appreciate Top Cat, although the character and series itself harks back to US television of the 60s. I may be wrong, but I don't think that children today are very big fans of the adventures of Hanna-Barbera's enterprising alley cat character. Since Top Cat was a part of my television experience while growing up, I was mildly interested in watching a film adaptation of it. The film itself is goofy, endearing and silly fun at times, but isn't something you absolutely have to take your children for.
Directed by Alberto Mar, the film was originally made in Spanish, for a Mexican audience, because the series was apparently a huge hit in Mexico. The film has nothing new to offer in terms of a plot or setting. Top Cat or TC, as he is fondly called by his faithful sidekicks, is up to his usual scams and tomfoolery in his favourite New York alley. Their lives, and indeed the life of every New Yorker goes for a toss when a new, narcissistic and tyrannical Police Chief takes over the city. TC's resourcefulness is tested to the hilt as he faces off against his newest enemy.
While it really is hard to fault the filmmakers for it, Top Cat just doesn't have the enigmatic pull of other iconic cartoon characters. The humour often feels dated and I often found myself wondering if children today would actually have the patience to sit through something as innocent as the escapades of cats that seem to be no different from human beings. In fact, in Top Cat, no one seems to know if a character is a dog, a cat or a human being unless the character announces it themselves.
The film does deal with universal themes like friendship and morals, as well as the dangers of submitting oneself completely to technology. Also, and this is the best part of the film and the character, the message is conveyed in a clean and honest manner. The treatment itself is absolutely no different from the cartoon series, though. It follows the same structure that an episode of the cartoon does, so you pretty much know exactly how the film is going to end.
While I watched the film in 2D, I suspect that the 3D version isn't going to add much value in terms of the theatrical experience either. I hate to say this, (because they just don't make clean, old-fashioned, fun cartoons like TC anymore) but missing Top Cat, the film, is like missing nothing at all.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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