Release date: March 26, 1997
Directed by: Mark Dindal
Starring: Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy
Budget: $32 million
Box office: $3.6 million
A singing and dancing cat named Danny goes to Hollywood in order to become a movie star.
Though short, Cats Don’t Dance packs quite a bit into its 75 minute runtime as it depicts animals attempting to find work in Hollywood during its golden age. Despite being a box office failure, it takes the idea and creates an intriguing and engaging story with it, showing the animals as a group of singers, actors and dancers who may have come with dreams of fame and stardom but settled for minor and insignificant roles, recurring vanity plate shots and secretarial positions. Yet, Danny comes along and won’t have it, instead attempting to use his infectious charm to prove the drawing power of animals. It’s a fascinating dichotomy and gets an interesting visualization in one scene when he attempts to reverse the cynicism of is animal costars with a musical number. At first he’s the only one with vibrant characterization and everyone is dulled at first, becoming vibrant as the scene progresses.
The characterization is highlighted well, too. Danny starts out the film as a bright and wide-eyed idealist believing he’ll land a big part within a week and refuses to give up even when everyone around him says it’s impossible. It makes for a good character arc as well because while the film follows him as the optimism breaks down, it allows him to see the impact he’s had on the other characters he meets along the way who seek to return the favor. Additionally, Sawyer exists as a good foil for him, introduced as a jaded secretary attempting to hang on to her cynicism. Her own character arc complements Danny as she grows less cynical throughout the story.
The film also has a fantastic villain. The audience may not be able to understand what she is saying due to the way she’s voiced. Nevertheless, the way she carries herself makes for no difficulty understanding her intentions. With two different personas depending on which side of the camera she’s on, nearly every other character cowers in fear of what she is able to do. Further, her schemes to remain in the spotlight are wildly entertaining as is the musical number dedicated to her.
It all comes together to make a fun film where anyone can find something to enjoy.
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Award
- Best Home Video Release
- Best Animated Feature
- Best Individual Achievement: Music in a Feature/Home Video Production (Randy Newman)
- Best Individual Achievement: Music in a Feature/Home Video Production (Steve Goldstein)
- Best Individual Achievement: Directing in a Feature Production
- Best Individual Achievement: Producing in a Feature Production
- Best Individual Achievement: Effects Animation (John Allan Armstrong)
- Best Individual Achievement: Effects Animation (Bob Simmons)
- Best Individual Achievement: Character Animation (Frans Vischer for the characters “Darla Dimple” & “Max”)
Awards Circuit Community Awards
- Best Animated Feature
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
- Favorite Animated Family Movie
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards
- Best Sound Editing – Animated Feature Film, Domestic & Foreign
- Best Sound Editing – Animated Feature
- Best Sound Editing – Music Animation
Online Film & Television Association Awards
- Best Animated Picture
Young Artist Award
- Best Performance in a Voiceover – TV or Film – Young Actress (Ashley Peldon)