For those few unfamiliar with Top Cat, it was first aired by Hanna-Barbera of The Flintstones fame in 1961. The show featured the character of Top Cat, known by friends as “T.C.”, and his gang of alley cats, pseudo-crooks who hang out in New York trying to hide their petty crimes from the bumbling Officer Dibble. The film takes a few cues from the plots in the show, including a cameo from the horse first seen in the TV episode “The $1,000,000 Derby”.
So the story goes, money-hungry millionaire, Lou Strickland, wants to ruin everything that makes New Yorkers happy by installing cameras on every street corner and employing a team of robots to replace the human police force. It’s George Orwell’s 1984 meets Goodfellas, but done with cats. There is a love story between Top Cat and Trixie, the right hand of Strickland, whose usefulness to the plot is questionable at best. Needless to say, Top Cat didn’t pass the Bechdel Test.
This flash-animated reboot, originally produced in Spanish, was the product of Mexican animation studio Anima, who brought you Kung Foo Magoo. Another film that employed flash animation was 2008’s Waltz with Bashir, even Pixar and Dreamworks use flash animation technology for several of their films. The use of flash animation is ideal for independent studios due to the ability to reuse much of the animation, reducing production costs and time. The process involves a layered picture whose individual components within each layer can be easily manipulated compared to traditional animation. This is very similar to the animation tricks originally used by Hanna-Barbera to streamline cartoon production for television. For more information on Hanna-Barbera’s innovative animation tricks see here and then here if you’re the adventurous type. However, the flash animation style may alienate certain viewers who are more used to the crisply rendered look of a Pixar or Dreamworks film. The film is being released in 2D and 3D, the latter perhaps complementing the style, however this reviewer can only tell the 2D story.
The film does keep the tone of the original series, and it will definitely be a nostalgia trip for those who watched the show as a child, even just for the opening theme tune which has thankfully remained the same. But what will today’s children learn from Top Cat: The Movie? Well: the rich are easily convinced to part with their money, androids are perverted, a nut shot is always funny, and, above all, every film can benefit from a dancing robot. [Watch the trailer]