The latest movie Disney intends to grind up in its live action remake mill is The Aristocats, a “dark age” cartoon in which a posh city kitty and her kittens are dumped in the countryside by a jealous butler, only to be rescued by a wily tom cat who then tries to seduce the impressionable kittens’ mother right in front of them, and the more I think about it, the more I think someone involved in the making of The Aristocats was really going through some stuff. The remake will be done in the style of Disney’s live-action Lady and the Tramp remake from 2019. Live action cats, you say? What could ever go wrong?
The era of Disney animation ranging from about 1968 to 1988 is referred to as Disney’s “dark age”, but this is the era that brought us such gems as The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound—I DARE you not to cry at this one, I DARE YOU—and the confusing sexual awakening of Fox Robin in Robin Hood. It’s also the era that brought us some of the films most ripe for remaking, and no, I don’t include The Aristocats on the list. I get why they’re remaking it, despite being a dark age film, it did pretty well when it was released in 1970, and it did even better on home video when my generation watched it on repeat in the 1990s. But no, the dark age films that should be remade are The Rescuers, The Black Cauldron, which would look amazing today, whether redone in contemporary animation styles or live action, and Oliver & Company.
If Disney is going to do that thing where they film real animals but animate their faces to talk—an inherently cursed image—then put it to use on a film that’s already dark and twisted, and that’s the all singing, all prancing, animal adaptation of Oliver Twist. You will rarely hear me advocate for a musical, but I am adamant that Oliver & Company should be remade with modern CG technology. We have the means to make singing animals look photoreal, and while Billy Joel is great and all, tell me the casting of Chris Evans as Dodger wouldn’t blow up the internet for a day. His real dog is named Dodger, everyone’s heart would melt into goo.
But for now, we’re getting live action Aristocats. I can’t wait to hear how this production goes, trying to wrangle a bunch of actual cats on camera. Does Judi Dench need to come tell Disney that a cat is not a dog? They’re not trainable and they’re not tractable. How much do you want to bet this thing ends up being 90% digital fur technology? I shudder just thinking about it.
Live long and gossip,