Well, after the disaster of dullness that was the last film, I promised you a good film. Now, I don’t know if it is a good film or not, but it has been the long time source of joviality between my friend Alyson and myself. And, it’s a live action Disney film – c’mon, how bad could it be? Disney know how to do pretty decent live action family fun; The Parent Trap, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Shaggy Dog, The Absent Minded Professor, Freaky Friday, the Herbie series...sure, not highlights of technological or plotting brilliance, but all pretty good for what they are. And today’s film promises to be no different, so let’s dive on in to the zany adventures of That Darn Cat! (it MUST have the exclamation point to show you how crazy it is).
Released in 1997, That Darn Cat! is a remake of the 1967 original and stars (a still B list at the time) Christina Ricci in the Hayley Mills role, Dyan Cannon, Cool Runnings’ Doug E. Doug and long time live action Disney stalwart, Dean Jones (who featured in the orginal in the role now played by Doug) and a whole host of nifty other actors showing up on the Disney dime. That Darn Cat! basically plays out the way you’d expect an animal-centric live action Disney film to play out. The wackily misplaced Patti and her darn cat (which is, unsurprisingly named DC – Darn Cat) get mixed up with a pair of inept robbers, who have already kidnapped the wrong person; and have to help the law find and rescue said person. And since the only one who can communicate where the kidnap victim actually is is That Darn Cat!, you can imagine the zany scrapes and wacky misunderstandings the humans have to go through to find her.
This film makes absolutely no bones about what you are in for, as right from the opening minutes you are greeted with a kooky quasi ska opening theme (hey, it was the late 90’s – EVERYTHING was ska then) full of whistling and screams of “THAT DARN CAT!” From there, we get thrown into the plot pretty darn quickly – the kidnapping of a rich man’s wife that gets screwed up, a teen who doesn’t like living in small-town USA, John Motherflippin’ Ratzenberger AND Big Mike as duelling mechanics and all the animatronic cats that money could buy. And Biff. This is not a film that I have to spend paragraphs explaining the intricacies of the plot, character motivations or history behind every little thing.
This is a Disney family film, so there is nothing even remotely close to challenging, truly tense or scary moments or anything that you could be offended by. But, really, if you go into a Disney film expecting any of that, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. What you do get is a goofy little story, some pretty decent performances and a perfectly pleasant way to kill 90 minutes. And an awesome cat. You know what? There were even a few moments when I found myself chuckling out loud. All in all, That Darn Cat! was an entertaining little romp.
And really, sometimes, that is all you want.