Remember 60s cartoon Top Cat? You know what was great about it? Everything. The way the cats formed a small-time mafia in an old alleyway, the way they bribed Officer Dibble to allow them to continue with their criminal exploits, the way that, yes, they were talking cats but you could still kinda believe in the whole thing, the nostalgia of their retro setting, the way each episode only lasted about half an hour – tops. So, obviously, the makers of Top Cat: The Movie have decided to ignore all of this. Wave goodbye to the all-important cat-Dibble relationship and the retro setting and say hello to the destruction of our childhood memories. Forever.
Top Cat, as fans of the 2D feline will already know, is the indisputable leader of the gang. In fact, some might say he’s the boss, he’s a pip, he’s the championship but, overall, he’s just the most tip-top Top Cat. Simple enough. The film begins with the iconic opening theme tune and then jumps across to TC lounging about his alleyway with his fellow kitty-kats, as he is often wont to do. Suddenly Officer Dibble arrives to warn TC and the alley cat gang NOT to go to a local concert. Why? Because the Maharajah of Pikachu (PIKACHU?), famed for giving away rubies like they’re going out of fashion, will be in attendance – and if the cats show up, Officer Dibble will lose out on that promotion he’s been hankering after for, like, ever.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
The cats and TC, who’s dressed up in a turban and now known as Sheikh Ali Cat (ha!), turn up to the concert and wreak mayhem. But not before they con and humiliating a small, ginger, shrill-voiced and yellow-toothed man in the queue outside. This dude may feel like a minor character at the moment but, when you see him jump into a car with a FEMALE CAT, you get the idea that he’ll be popping up again later. As a villain. OOH, SUBTLE.
What follows is a disjointed story about Officer Dibble losing out on his promotion, a new Police Chief with a passion for computers, CCTV and robotics, a stint in prison for some of our most favourite characters, a lesson learned of not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone and Fancy-Fancy dressing up as a female robot. As you do. And not a single speck of it makes any sense.
The plot boils down to one simple analogy; if Top Cat, I, Robot and The Shawshank Redemption had run into each other at high-speed, leaving behind a mess of fur, prison uniforms and evil robots, than this mutant hybrid would be Top Cat: The Movie. In fact, no. If this mutant hybrid had lain there squealing for a good hour or so, before, just like Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith, pulling itself up a burning bank towards an operating table, allowing itself to be turned into a monster in order to survive, THAT would be the plot of Top Cat: The Movie.
In short, the message of Top Cat: The Movie is that technology is evil. Which, ironically, makes my job a little easier – technology IS evil, especially when it’s used to take some of my favourite 2D characters ever and plop them down in a painfully-bright world of 3D backgrounds. The “purrfect 3D” effects of the film make it look like a pop-up book. A really, really ugly pop-up book. And, sometimes, the 3D is BACK to FRONT. Yup; the background is closer than the characters standing in front of them. I mean, really? Really, animation dudes? 3D movies usually give me a headache but, with glaring errors such as these to feast my eyes upon, I’m surprised I didn’t walk out with a brain tumour.
The voices, I’ll admit, are bang on the money; Top Cat, Benny, Fancy Fancy, Spook, Choo Choo, Brains, Officer Dibble and co all sound exactly like the original cartoon. But they’re all saying such dreadful things. Such dreadful, mind-numbing, heart-shattering things. The jokes are baffling, their conversations are incomprehensible and there’s even one amazingly inappropriate quip about prison rape. Little kids just love a bitta prison rape in their afternoon animated flick, don’t they? It’s an insult to the world of animation, to Hanna-Barbera, to the original Top Cat and to cats in general. Purrfect film? More like a bedraggled alley cat coughed up a hair ball, smeared it all over a blank notebook and wrote ‘Top Cat: The Movie – SCRIPT‘ on the front in its own blood. Do NOT go and see it. That is all.