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Top Cat: the Movie (known in Spanish as Don Gato y su Pandilla, literally "Top Cat and His Gang") is a 2011 3D Mexican-Argentine film based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, Top Cat.

Produced by Ánima Estudios and Illusion Studios and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.[1] it premiered in Mexico in 2D and 3D theaters on 16 September 2011. The English version was released in the UK on 1 June 2012, distributed by Vertigo Films.[2] The film had a limited release in the United States on 2 August 2013, starring the voices of Rob Schneider and Danny Trejo.[3][4]

A computer-animated prequel, titled Top Cat Begins,[5] was released on 30 October 2015 in Mexico.


Summary

During lunch with Benny, Top Cat spots a female cat walk. Excusing himself, he runs after her. He is interrupted by Griswald, but soon gets him out of the way and meets up with the female cat, who introduces herself as Trixie. While she finds him amusing, an alley cat isn't her type.

At the alley, Officer Dibble has been assigned to guard Lazlo-Lazlo at Carnegie Hall, and warns Top Cat to stay away. T.C. reads news that the Maharajah of Pookajee will be attending, and he is known for giving out rubies as tips. He thinks rubies are just what he needs to impress Trixie. Top Cat and his gang head to the concert to meet the Maharajah, running into an obnoxious man named Lou Strictland. The gang steal his tickets and get him sent away. While the gang distracts Dibble, Top Cat makes a bet with the Maharajah and wins a Maharajahton 5000 device with many functions, as the Maharajah hasn't any rubies.

The next morning, Dibble is called to the police station. The Chief is retiring and needs a replacement. Dibble thinks it's going to be him, but the Chief introduces him to his son-in-law, Lou Strictland, who is taking over. Strictland replaces the staff with robots which he believes are more competent.

Strictland has a fence erected to keep the cats out of the alley. They enlist a huge gorilla to break it down, but it goes wild and damages the Mayor's house. The Mayor cancels funding for a robot police army. Strictland's assistant, Trixie, offers to keep Top Cat away from the alley while he carries his out his plan. He uses a disguised robot to frame T.C. for robbing an orphanage. Top Cat returns to the alley and is shunned by his gang, arrested by police and after an unfair trial, convicted to the Dog Jail, because Cat Jail was full. With the arrest of Top Cat, Strictland is granted the Mayor's funding and establishes a robot police army and a major scale surveillance camera system which restricts privacy for the city. Top Cat sees on one of the security cameras that his gang is struggling, and the cats begin to express their disbelief in him.

Meanwhile, Top Cat tries to keep a low profile in dog jail. Griswald, also an inmate, threatens him, but he tricks him into thinking that he's really a dog and that Griswald is really a cat. He promises to keep Griswald's secret from the other dogs, and later becomes popular by fighting for better living conditions for the convicts.

Strictland abuses his authority and starts inventing ridiculous laws to fine people absurd amounts of money, intending to spend it on making himself even more handsome. Tired of his tyranny, Trixie quits her job and turns to Officer Dibble, the only honest person left in the place. She shows him evidence that a robot Top Cat sent by Strictland robbed the orphanage, proving Top Cat's innocence. Dibble escapes to pass this to the gang, but Trixie is captured by the police robots.

Dibble tells the gang what really happened. They break the video evidence, so they ask Big Gus to help them break Top Cat out of prison, because he owes Top Cat. Big Gus leads them through an underground passage into the dog jail and leaves. The gang apologizes for their doubts about Top Cat. Benny blows their cover by telling the dogs that they're cats, so the gang and Dibble escape through a manhole and go back to the police station to rescue Trixie.

The gang infiltrate the building in robot guises finding Strictland has imprisoned everyone in the city and hoarded the city's cash. While Dibble distracts Strictland, the gang looks for the keycode to release everyone. While Fancy-Fancy distracts the robot guards, the rest of the gang trip a silent alarm and are locked in Strictland's vault. Strictland arrives and orders the robots to annihilate Top Cat. As a single robot enters, Top Cat realizes the whole security system was manufactured by the Maharajah of Pookajee. Top Cat takes out the Maharajahton 5000, says it can control all the robots, and orders them to get Stickland. In panic, Strictland self-destructs the robot army except the single one, who is Fancy-Fancy still in his robot guise. Everyone is released. Strictland is rendered helpless and Dibble arrests him and, on Top Cat's suggestion, sentences him to the Dog Jail.

Officer Dibble is promoted as the new Chief of Police, Top Cat and Trixie renew their relationship, the gang enjoy themselves, and finally Griswald asks for a place in Top Cat's gang, which Top Cat accepts.

Trivia

  • Hoagy's Alley is spelled "Hoagie's."
  • During their meeting, Choo-Choo is watching the King for a Day program on his phone.
  • Benny rings a bell to call the horse from "The $1,000,000 Derby".

Spanish cast

  • Raul Anaya as Don Gato (Top Cat)
  • Jorge Arvizu as Benito (Benny), Cucho (Choo-Choo)
  • Jesús Guzmán as Demostenes (Brain)
  • Eduardo Garza as Panza (Fancy-Fancy)
  • Luis Fernando Orozco as Espanto (Spook)
  • Sebastian Llapur as Oficial Matute (Officer Dibble)
  • Rosalba Sotelo as Trixie
  • Mario Castañeda as Lucas Buenrostro (Lou Strictland)
  • Ricardo Tejedo as Rugelio (Griswald)

The English-language version was also included in the special features in the Mexican DVD release with Jason Harris voicing Lou Strictland and Griswald.

Production

Development

On 26 February 2011, Warner Bros. Pictures Mexico, Ánima Estudios, Illusion Studios announced that the film would be in production, to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary.[6] The film took a total of 34 months to develop.[6]

Writing

While the production of the film mainly took place in Mexico, Warner Bros. suggested that the film was written by Americans, when Timothy McKeon and Kevin Seccia wanted to write a familiar story to match the spirit of the original TV series.[6][7] Before writing the screenplay, they reviewed the show's set of the 60s.[7] They wrote several versions of the script until they finished the final draft the script.[7] It took them six months to write.[7] Jesús Guzmán, the Spanish voice of Demostenes (Brain), adapted and translated the script in Spanish.[7]

Animation

It was originally rumored to be a live-action/CGI hybrid, but it was later confirmed to be a 2D/CG animated feature.[8] Animated in Adobe Flash with computer animated backgrounds, the animation was done by Ánima Estudios in Mexico, while post-production (including the CGI backgrounds) and stereoscopic 3D services were done at Illusion Studios in Argentina.[7]

Background development and setting

Alberto Mar, the film's director, did a scouting in New York City in 2011 and took pictures of the city's buildings, alleys, and drains.[7] He also used locations that were not featured in the TV series, such as Times Square.[7]

Character development

During character development, all of the film's characters had to be approved by Warner Bros. Animation.[7] The goal was for the characters to look like they were drawn in style of other Hanna Barbera works.[7] Ánima Estudios created new characters that were not featured in the series, such as Trixie, Lucas Buenrostro (Lou Strictland), the army of robots, and over a hundred incidental characters.[7]

Cast

While the film features a voice cast different from the original series, Jorge Arvizu reprises his role as Benny and Choo Choo from the Spanish version of the show[8] The U.S. version casts actors, Rob Schneider and Danny Trejo, dubbing over Jason Harris voice roles as Lou Strictland and Griswald, respectively, from the international English versions of the film.[3]

Music

The film's original score was composed by Leoncio Lara.[9] The "Top Cat theme" was featured in the film. The song, "New York Groove" by Ace Frehley, was also featured in the film's trailer and end credits.

Release

This film was released theatrically in Mexico and parts of South America on 16 September 2011 in Digital 3D and regular 2D format. The film's teaser premiered 15 April 2011 and was shown during the Mexican screenings of Hop.[10]

On 23 January 2012, Vertigo Films announced that the film would be released in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2012 (formerly 20 August 2012) in 2D, Digital 3D, and RealD 3D theaters.[11] A UK teaser trailer was released in 5 April 2012.[12]

The film was released in select theaters and VOD in the United States from Viva Pictures on 2 August 2013.[13][14] The U.S. trailer was released on 7 May 2013.[15] The Motion Picture Association of America gave this film a PG rating for "some mild rude content".[16][17]

Home media

The original Latin American version was released on Blu-ray and DVD on 2 December 2011 from Warner Home Video International[18] as well on Blu-ray 3D in Brazil, distributed by PlayArte Home Entertainment, while the UK version was released on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on 15 October 2012, distributed by Entertainment One.[19] It was the first film from Ánima Estudios to be released on Blu-ray. The film was released in the United States on DVD on 3 September 2013.

Box office

Mexico and Argentina

This film has earned $40,708,634 in Mexico and grossed a total of $110,464,458 pesos. It has also became one of the biggest box office openings in Mexican cinema history.[20][21] In Argentina, it opened #5 on its opening weekend behind Killer Elite, Dream House, The Lion King 3D, and Real Steel, earning $771,229 and grossed a total of $3,328,829.[22]

Brazil

In Brazil, this film opened at #7 behind The Smurfs, Larry Crowne, Cowboys & Aliens, O Homem do Futuro, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Conan the Barbarian, earning R$973,076. It grossed a total of R$2,231,700.[23]

United Kingdom and Spain

The UK release of this film opened at #7 at the weekend box office with £437,577 from 452 theaters throughout the country, behind the UK releases of What to Expect When You're Expecting, The Dictator, The Avengers, Men in Black 3, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Prometheus, and grossed a total of £2,845,031.[24] In Spain, this film earned €34,085 on its opening weekend and grossed a total of €96,848.

Internationally

This film grossed $326,440 in Uruguay,286,296 Turkish lira in Turkey, and $2,448,802 in Peru.

Reception

Though the original Spanish version of the film was received favorably in Mexico and Latin America, the English dub of the film received extremely negative reviews from UK critics.[25][26][27][28][29]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the English film 1 out of 5 stars, saying "It's the bottom of the heap, and it frankly looks cheap, the disaster of the year is – Top Cat".

Derek Adams of Time Out London also gave the English film 1 out of five stars, writing, "a pity, then, that the key elements – storyline, dialogue, comedy value – are so woefully ineffectual. An air of boredom permeated the screening I attended and laughs were universally non-existent."

Colin Kennedy of Metro criticized the English film, calling it "a dog's dinner of a film which will bore new viewers and disappoint old ones" and "post-Pixar kids will be bored rigid."

Michelle Moore of Close-Up Film gave the English film a negative review for its animation, saying "When it comes to combining the two, scenes and characters, things at times get very disordered and appear out of place."

Rob of The Shiznit gave this 1 out of 5 stars and wrote, "It looks like Top Cat, sounds like Top Cat, but it doesn’t feel like Top Cat. It's as if a Mexican film company (Ánima Estudios) has taken an iconic American cartoon and slapped together a budget version... oh, wait, that’s exactly what’s happened."

Bethany Rutter of Little White Lies criticized the English film saying that "it's heroically unfunny, the lame script is one of many sticking points. Awkward, clunky and predictable, it propels the film forward at a pace that manages to be both deathly slow and annoyingly jumpy."

Mike Sheridan of Entertainment.ie criticized the English film and wrote, "In a world where studios are putting so much care into the development of characters in family aimed flicks, Top Cat just doesn’t cut it."

Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent gave the English film 2 out of 5 stars and said that "neither the voice work (much of it done by Jason Harris) nor the animation is distinctive. Officer Dibble has only a marginal role. The use of 3D seems entirely tokenistic (an excuse to hike up ticket prices rather than an artistic decision.)"

Writing in the Daily Mail, Chris Tookey said the film, "one of the worst-ever spin-offs of a TV series", was "abysmally scripted, crudely drawn and cheaply made, with astonishing inattention to detail" and apparently "redubbed with little regard for synch by a team of justifiably unknown actors."

Shaun Munro of WhatCulture gave the English film 1 and 1/2 out of 5 stars, calling it a "horrid, low budget take on the classic series" and wrote "Top Cat: The Movie is a rarity; an almost completely mirthless, charmless animated film."

On the positive side, Matthew Turner of ViewLondon enjoyed the English film, saying that " This movie provides a handful of decent laughs, though some of the jokes are a bit dodgy, the 3D effects are entirely superfluous and younger children might be a little bored."

Eddie Harrison of The List also gave the English film a positive reaction, saying that "adults looking for undemanding fare for their kids may find Top Cat's brand of sass, irreverence and cheeky charm offer a persuasive alternative to today's crasser children's entertainments."

While the U.S. version currently doesn't have a critic score, the UK version currently scores a 15% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on thirteen reviews, with an average score of 2.8/10.[30]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominees Result
2012 13th Golden Trailer Awards[31] Best Foreign Animation/Family Trailer Nominated

Sequel

Variety reported that the film's producer, José Carlos García, is working on a sequel, with a possibility of this film having a limited theatrical release in the United States.[32]

Gallery

Images

Videos

References

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