Disney dusts off yet another of their old school classics with a much-needed HD treatment with The Aristocats: Special Edition now available on Blu-ray. It may not be quite as epic as some of their older hits such as Bambi or Dumbo, but this 1970 classic is one of the most fun and energetic entries in their library that had, at the time, been largely dominated by the likes of fairy tales and bedtime stories. It’s good that Disney decided to finally bring The Aristocats to Blu-ray, as I’ve never really had the opportunity to see the film in its entirety until now, and for that I’m grateful as its just one of those films that’s sure to make everybody want to be a cat after watching.
When a greedy butler named Edgar learns he’ll receive a huge inheritance from a retired opera star should anything happen to her prized cat Duchess (voiced by Eva Gabor) and her three kittens who stand to get the inheritance first, he ends up drugging and leaving them out in a rough part of Paris. As the four cats roam the mean streets with all hope seemingly lost, they run across a streetwise cat named Thomas O’Malley (voiced by Phil Harris) who agrees to help them find their way back home. Of course, in typical Disney fashion, this makeshift family runs into plenty of danger and adventure along the way. There’s also some fun songs throughout the movie, especially when they bump into a feline jazz band led by the hip Scat Cat (voiced to perfection by the legendary Scatman Crothers).
While not as epic as some of the older Disney hits, I’ve always had a good time watching The Aristocats, as it has its own unique charm with a fun cast of characters, great music, and even a few surprising thrills along the way, especially the one involving our feline friends nearly being run over by a speeding train. All of this is made even better on Blu-ray, as the visuals and sound really shine here. The 1080p picture comes in clean and clear, showcasing the spectacular hand-crafted artwork and animation the studio was famous for during the period. And 5.1 DTS-HD audio rings in every great song and funny dialogue with crystal clarity.
There’s plenty of special features to enjoy after the film as well. “The Lost Open” has composer Richard Sherman discussing the original opening that would have included a maid character along with the songs “How Much You Mean to Me” and “Court Me Slowly”, but sadly didn’t make the cut. Sherman also speaks on another song that was cut titled “She Never Felt Alone”. In “The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocats of Disney Songs” we’re treated to a short video of legendary Disney composers Richard and Robert Sherman playing and singing some of the songs they made for the film. Rounding out the extras are some sing-alongs for the songs in the movie, and “The Great Cat Family” which is a 12-minute 1956 animated short that features the history of the domesticated cat as only Disney could tell it.
While it may not be a heavy hitter in Disney’s line of animated classics, the long-awaited The Aristocats: Special Edition on Blu-ray there’s more than enough fun and great music to win itself a special place in your heart and your collection. I recommend that you give this release a chance, as you’ll see that’s it quite the cat’s meow.
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Walt Disney Video