Top Cat Begins
In our house, we grew up on feline favourite Top Cat; close friends get to call him TC, don’t you know. He really was the leader of the gang. And though you will emerge from the cinema humming the catchy 60s’ theme tune, this film is far from purrfect. Top Cat Begins is an edgy Mexican/Indian take on the Manhattan street moggie’s formative years and establishing of his trashcan tribe. But it’s all a bit heavy-handed for adults and a slash too violent for the very young or those of a sensitive nature – like me – definitely so, if delivered at the earsplitting volume, at which I saw it.
The smooth-talking funky feline has moved into the 21st century, however and the animation is superb. This prequel, based on the characters from the much-loved Hanna Barbera cartoon is a fluorescent dream. Just think strawberry Angel Delight meets blue slush and you’ll be on the right colour palette.
And speaking of blue, one character who has retained his charm is bouncy indigo-suited Benny the Ball, even if his mother feeds him on rotten cabbage – a running gag There’s also an unfathomable joke about the number of skilled jobs that she holds down, but still has no cash to raise her son. Eggshells and orange peel, anyone?
The Marilyn Monroe meets Jessica Rabbit figure is a cute cabaret singer too, with a sparkling take on Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend. But the script seems to have acquired a rather nasty edge and a knowing slant that makes the experience much less pleasant than I remember of old. Maybe I had my rose-tinted spectacles on from childhood.
Their previous life was all about conning the cops, certainly, but Officer Dibble would never have been caught in a spoof Psycho shower scene in the 60s’ teatime adventures – much repeated thereafter – of TC and his chums. The gun-toting grandma was too much for me too, even on the scale of cartoon violence capers.
The original and innocent Top Cat charmed his way into our hearts, even if he was a cunning con-man. But the secret of a good confidence trickster is charm. Top Cat Begins hopes to reveal the origins of everything you know and love about this classic comedy hero. What follows is an adventure so crazy that it has to be seen to be believed, runs the publicity. Crazy is true, but this is bad crazy, not good crazy and lacking in charm. These hep cat hipsters just don’t have the jazz hands for making the back alleys of the Big Apple beguiling.
Luckily, what redeemed it is that it may well lead you back to basics and a viewing of an original Top Cat episode on YouTube – please not the building society ad that uses TC to sell its wares. Just remember, whatever they do to him, he’s the most tip top, Top Cat and don’t let them loose on Yogi Bear.
by Liz Kennedy
Top Cat Begins (U) runs at 89 mins