The Aristocats (July 31/01)
There is a period in Disney's career of making animated movies that is often neglected. The period after such classics as Dumbo and Pinocchio but before their re-emergence with hits like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. It's in this awkward phase that The Aristocats was born.
This is a surprisingly low-key affair, lacking any out-of-this-world animated sequences we've come to expect or even a strong lead character. It tells the simple story of a family of cats - a mother and three kittens - that are to inherit the vast fortune of a rich old lady. But the butler finds out about this and doesn't like it one bit. He kidnaps the felines and abandons them in the middle of nowhere. Now the four cats must embark on a journey home, where they will encounter various other animals along the way.
Those anticipating a cornucopia of songs will surely be disappointed. There are only two tunes sung by the characters throughout, and one of them is quite short. Much of the movie is devoted to the "road trip" that the cats are on. They hook up with a streetwise alley cat, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that romance will eventually blossom between the stray cat and the mother Aristocat.
Is The Aristocats worth watching? Yeah, probably. Just so long as one isn't expecting a Disney masterpieces along the lines of The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast.