The Aristocats doesn’t place among the pantheon of beloved Disney animated features, and it’s easy to understand why. The animation is distractingly bad (particularly in Madame Adelaide’s hair, which adds and removes lines frame-by-frame), the music is uninspired, and the plot is uninteresting.
Of course, this still makes the 40-year-old film better than most modern kids entertainment.
I had a hard time convincing my son (he’s 2 and a half) to watch the movie. We watched it in chunks, and he never wanted to watch more of it. I’m not sure why, because when we finally sat down to watch the second half, he seemed to enjoy it.
The movie could have been much better with some good songwriting and better characterization. If it came out today, it would probably have a couple hit songs, and the kittens would have been developed into better comic sidekicks, instead of being marginalized as they were.
The two adult cats (Duchess and O’Malley) dominate the film, but O’Malley is easily recognized as the street-smart rapscallion in the mold of Tramp in Lady and the Tramp and Dodger in Oliver and Company, just not as likeable. Duchess, voiced by Eva Gabor, is distracting because all I can think is Lisa Douglas in Green Acres.
In the final evaluation, Aristocats is a purely average movie. There are far better choices available, but watching it won’t make your eyes bleed.