You've probably never heard of the 1997 animated movie "Cats Don't Dance", and there's a good reason. At the time, the film studio that basically controlled the animation industry was Walt Disney Animation Studios and every movie studio had tried to achieve their success had failed. Warner Bros. Animation Studios tried to use Disney's formula used well in the latter's films, and also tried to stand on their own, but neither way worked. The reason why was because of the poor marketing used for their animated movies. Despite this, "Cats Don't Dance" did well at the Annie Awards (the highest achievement in animation), as it won Best Animated Feature over Disney's "Hercules" and rightfully so. "Cats Don't Dance" is a very entertaining movie and is certainly something that more people should see.
Taking place in the Golden Age of Hollywood in the '30s, a cat named Danny (Scott Bakula) leaves his home town of Kokomo, IN, and heads to Hollywood to try to become a movie star. When he arrives, he is given a role of an extra on the movie Li'l Ark Angel, the new film from big-name star Darla Dimple (Ashley Peldon) who seems to be all cute and smiles on the camera, but is really a spoiled brat who hates animals off. After upstaging her during the filming of the movie, he realizes that animals don't get the respect that he thought. For example, an elephant named Wollie (John Rhys-Davies) dreams of being a piano player, however, is forced to always portray the role of a trumpeting mammoth for the studios' logo. Wanting to prove that animals can be just as good as human actors, Danny sets out with the other animals to put on a big and loud show while trying to avoid the wrath of the evil Darla Dimple.
One of the pros of the story is that it's nice and simple. It doesn't have to be complicated for children to follow and has a good message about racism that sadly still occurs in the world today. I also enjoyed the fact that it takes place in the early years of movies, with the film having very clever references showing movies that would play during that time like "Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With The Wind". The animation was the best part of the movie. I loved how fast paced it was and how the slapstick was effectively used. It reminded me of the cartoons that came out at the time like the old Disney, Looney Tunes, and Tom and Jerry shorts. It felts like I was watching cartoons from the '40s as the music matched the movie perfectly and had things you'll probably never see in cartoons today like the big executives smoke cigars and a diva fish holds a cigarette holder like Cruella De Vil. Speaking of the music, it's pretty catchy, upbeat and very memorable. The songs are written by Randy Newman and feel like they came out of a Broadway musical. As for the characters, they all have fun personalities and have understandable motives. By far the best character of the bunch is the villain, Darla Dimple. Her bratty personality along with her having a very creepy butler named Max lead to the film has some very good laughs. My only problem is a very minor scene that involves a bunch of Warner Bros. movies being promoted (one of them being the infamous "Batman & Robin") through parodies of posters. Honestly, it's just a nitpick though.
"Cats Don't Dance" is a movie that I highly recommend you should watch. It has a very nice and simple story, some fantastic animation, fun characters, and memorable songs which is what I expect to see in a fun animated musical. It certainly isn't anything groundbreaking, but in reality, it doesn't have to be. If a film has plenty of entertaining moments, then I'm usually left happy and that's what this movie did.