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Cats Don't Dance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cats Don't Dance
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed byMark Dindal
Screenplay by
  • Roberts Gannaway
  • Cliff Ruby
  • Elana Lesser
  • Theresa Pettengill
Story by
  • Rick Schneider
  • Robert Lence
  • Mark Dindal
  • Kelvin Yasuda
  • Brian McEntee
  • David Womersley
Produced by
Edited byDan Molina
Music bySteve Goldstein
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 26, 1997 (1997-03-26)
Running time
74 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$32 million[1]
Box office$3.5 million[1]

Cats Don't Dance is a 1997 American animated musical comedy film directed by Mark Dindal (in his feature directorial debut).[2] The film features the voices of Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, Matthew Herried, Ashley Peldon, John Rhys-Davies, Kathy Najimy, Don Knotts, Hal Holbrook, Betty Lou Gerson (in her final film role), René Auberjonois, Dindal, and George Kennedy.

The film's musical numbers were written by Randy Newman and includes the contributions of Gene Kelly as choreographer, before his death in 1996. The film was Kelly's final film project and is dedicated to his memory. It is the only fully animated feature produced by Turner Feature Animation, which was merged during the post-production of Cats Don't Dance into Warner Bros. Feature Animation after the merger of Time Warner with Turner Broadcasting System in 1996.

Cats Don't Dance was released in the United States and Canada on March 26, 1997, by Warner Bros. under its Family Entertainment label. It was a box-office bomb, grossing $3.5 million domestically due to lack of promotion. Despite this, the film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for its animation, humor, characters, voice performances, and musical numbers, and over the years gained a cult following.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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In an alternate 1939, in a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals coexist, Daniel "Danny" T. Cat, an optimistic orange tabby cat from Kokomo, Indiana, travels to Hollywood in hopes of starting an acting career there. After meeting a young penguin named Pudge, Danny is selected by agent Farley Wink to feature in a film that is in production at Mammoth Pictures called Lil' Ark Angel, alongside Wink's secretary, a beautiful yet cynical female Turkish Angora named Sawyer. Upon joining fellow animals—Tilly the hippo, Cranston the goat, Frances the fish, and T.W the tortoise—Danny is dismayed on learning how minor his role is and tries weaseling his way into more time in the spotlight. Danny unwittingly angers Darla Dimple, a popular yet spoiled child actress and star of the film; she promptly has her gigantic gorilla butler Max intimidate Danny against further attempts to enlarge his part.

Danny learns from the studio's mascot Woolie the elephant that human actors are normally given more important roles than animals, whereas animals themselves end up getting minor and often thankless roles to the point of having little to no leverage in show business. The next day, Danny reminds the other animals of their past aspirations by instigating a mass musical performance in an alleyway, which draws Darla's attention. Overhearing Danny's intention to make an appeal to Mammoth Pictures head L.B. Mammoth, Darla invites Danny to her mansion and grants him and the animals full use of the Li'l Ark Angel stage on the day of a press conference held by Mammoth, on the condition that Danny not reveal her involvement in this ostensibly charitable act. Danny happily accepts the offer, unaware that Darla is secretly setting the animals up for failure to prevent them from stealing her spotlight. As the animals prepare their performance on the ark, Darla and Max create a catastrophic flood that washes through Hollywood, for which Mammoth blames and dismisses the animals. When the satisfied Darla arrives to thank Danny, he is admonished for his naivety and advised by Woolie to return to Kokomo.

That night, Sawyer takes to heart Danny's attempts to keep the animals' dreams alive and tries catching him at the bus stop, but narrowly misses him. However, after a comment from the bus driver and seeing Pudge wander the streets, Danny stops the bus and secretly invites Sawyer, Woolie, Tillie, Cranston, Frances and T.W. to the Lil' Ark Angel premiere. After the screening, Danny battles Max and sends him flying away by deflating Darla's parade balloon, then calls the audience's attention, only to be mocked by Darla. However, Sawyer brings the others backstage to help Danny and Pudge. After Danny convinces them not to give up on their dreams no matter what the humans have said or done, the eight animals put on a musical performance that entertains and impresses the viewers. Meanwhile, Darla's attempts to sabotage the performance drastically enhance it, bringing a standing ovation from the audience. A frustrated Darla admits responsibility for the flood, inadvertently exposing herself to the public and Mammoth in the process. Darla tries hiding her true colors, but Pudge pulls a lever, which causes her to fall into a trapdoor. Danny and Sawyer admit their feelings for each other, and the animals achieve their dreams for larger roles.

Voice cast



The film was launched in 1993 as a vehicle for Michael Jackson, who would produce, star, and be a consultant in the music and choreography. It would have been a hybrid live-action/CGI film,[4] but by 1994, Jackson had ceased to be involved in the film.[5] In its earlier stages, the film concerned less anthropomorphic stray cats that live among the sets and studio backlots. At one point, David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr. composed songs for the film before Randy Newman was hired.[6]

Turner Animation was run by David Kirschner, and had originated as the feature division of Hanna-Barbera, where Kirschner was CEO.[7] The Turner Animation writing department added cat characters based on stories about the filming of Warner Bros. Studios productions like Casablanca (1942), East of Eden (1955), and The Music Man (1962); stagehands would feed feral cats, which dominated the back lot for decades.[7] Producers David Kirschner and Paul Gertz then decided to have dance numbers in the vein of classic musical films like Singin' in the Rain (1952). Kershner felt the style would appeal to a wide audience. The 1930s Hollywood backdrop also inspired the premise of anthropomorphic animals being allegories of those who did not look and/or sound mainstream struggling to gain attention in Hollywood in the late 1930s.[7]

Kirschner contacted Mark Dindal to be director of the project a year after the two met and while Dindal was working on The Rocketeer (1991).[7] Around the same time, Brian McEntee joined as art director, Randy Newman joined as composer, and Gene Kelly joined as dance consultant.[7] Dindal, Kirschner, and McEntee noticed the improving animation technology and were excited to see how it would be incorporated with traditional animation in Cats Don't Dance; McEntee himself worked on the computer-animated ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast (1991).[7] The team watched old musical films for reference before asking Kelly, who instantly joined due to his interest in the story.[7] One meeting took place at Kelly's house between him and Dindal, and he vividly remembered how the films he starred in were choreographed.[7]

During production, management at Turner Feature Animation changed repeatedly and each head that came in attempted to take drastic revisions, including updating the setting to the 1950s rock-and-roll era. Dindal said: "It's pretty hard to try and keep what you have finished so far, and then suddenly transition into a different period of time or introduce a different character or have a completely different ending that doesn't seem to fit the beginning you have".[6]

Dindal's portrayal of Max was initially a scratch track and was never intended to be heard on the film. Dindal wanted Max to be voiced by a professional actor, but as the film started running out of money, he kept his own vocals in.[6]


Steve Goldstein composed much of the score. For the film, Randy Newman composed songs inspired by the classic songs of the Golden Age of Hollywood, including "Danny's Arrival Song", "Little Boat On The Sea", "Animal Jam Session", "Big and Loud", "Tell Me Lies", and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", while the opening and ending pop song "Our Time Has Come" was written by Martin Page and the end credits song "I Do Believe" was written by Simon Climie and Will Downing. Goldstein and Newman gathered a couple of nominations at the Annie Awards, with the latter winning the award for the musical numbers written and composed by him.

Original songs performed in the film include:

1."Our Time Has Come"James Ingram & Carnie Wilson3:49
2."Danny's Arrival Song"Scott Bakula3:06
3."Little Boat on the Sea"Lindsay Ridgeway1:37
4."Animal Jam"Bakula5:09
5."Big and Loud (Pt. 1)"Ridgeway1:40
6."Big and Loud (Pt. 2)"Ridgeway1:33
7."Tell Me Lies"Natalie Cole3:17
8."Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"Bakula, Cole, Rick Logan, Hal Holbrook, Betty Lou Gerson and Kathy Najimy3:14


New Line Cinema, which was a sister company to Turner Feature Animation at the time, expressed interest in distributing the film,[8] but when Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner in 1996, the film fell into the ownership of Warner Bros. Pictures. Pullet Surprise, a newly produced Looney Tunes short film featuring Foghorn Leghorn, preceded the film's theatrical release,[9] and "The Big Sister", a Dexter's Laboratory What a Cartoon! short, followed the film in its original home video release.

Home media

Cats Don't Dance had its first home video release by Warner Home Video, on VHS and LaserDisc on August 19, 1997, only four months and twenty-four days after its theatrical release. To promote the release, Warner partnered with Continental Airlines, in which the buyer received an in-pack coupon worth $125 in savings on a Continental flight. A $2 instant savings coupon with the additional purchase of either Dennis the Menace (1993), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Richie Rich (1994), or the 25th anniversary edition of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was also included.[10]

The film had also its first DVD release on September 3, 2002 in a pan-and-scan format with bonus features.[11] A re-release of the same DVD, but bundled with Quest for Camelot (1998), was released on May 2, 2006. Internationally, in July 2008, Cats Don't Dance was released on DVD in widescreen in Germany, Spain, and the Benelux countries. A widescreen DVD was released for the first time in North America on November 1, 2016 via the Warner Archive Collection.[12] The original widescreen presentation is also available digitally for rental or purchase through Google Play and also through Amazon Video. The film was officially released on Blu-ray via the Warner Archive Collection on September 26, 2023.[13]


Critical reaction

Cats Don't Dance received a 71% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site consensus reads: "Cats Don't Dance, but they should easily entertain all-ages audiences thanks to some colorful animation, sharp humor, and a catchy soundtrack".[14]

Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote: "Decked out with sharp and colorful design work, some well-drawn characters and six snappy Randy Newman tunes, this first entry from Turner Feature Animation goes down very easily but lacks a hook".[15] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four. He wrote the film "is not compelling and it's not a breakthrough, but on its own terms, it works well. Whether this will appeal to kids is debatable; the story involves a time and a subject they're not much interested in. But the songs by Randy Newman are catchy, the look is bright, the spirits are high and fans of Hollywood's golden age might find it engaging".[16] John Petrakis, reviewing for the Chicago Tribune, noted Cats Don't Dance would appeal more for adults than children, but provided a good moral lesson on prejudice. He further wrote the film has "the sharp irreverence of the brilliant Who Framed Roger Rabbit. There are plenty of clever asides and witty one-liners, not to mention a few terrific supporting characters".[17]

Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times summarized in his review: "While the animated characters, bright colors and an appealing Randy Newman score may keep the children content, Cats Don't Dance is no saccharine fantasy. Its Hollywood references and dark satire constitute its real strengths".[18] Jack Mathews, reviewing for the Los Angeles Times, described the film as a "startling miscalculation". He next wrote: "It has lots of cute animals, some jaunty Randy Newman songs and solid, if uninspired, animation work. But blending parody and nostalgia about an era half a century removed from the lives of the core audience seems a foolish indulgence".[19] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post wrote the film was "colorful, but unimaginatively drawn".[20] Also from The Washington Post, Jane Horwitz felt children "won't get the references to old movies or stars like Bette Davis and Clark Gable. Still, the action (however confusing), the music and the characters should hold even toddlers for a while".[21]

Box office

Cats Don't Dance became a casualty of the merger between Turner and Time Warner. It received a traditional theatrical release on March 26, 1997, but without fanfare and did not draw an audience. The film grossed $3.5 million in the United States and Canada against its $32 million production budget.[1] Dindal and Kirschner told the Los Angeles Times that they were both frustrated with Warner Bros. over the lack of advertising and the failed marketing campaign.[6][22]


Despite mostly positive reception, the Stinkers filed the film under the Founders Award in 1997 (which lamented the year's biggest studio disgraces), citing it as "loud, unfunny, and completely over the heads of its intended audience".[23] On the other hand, when it comes to positive accolades, although failing in gathering any Oscar nominations, it became historically the first non-Disney animated film to win the Best Animated Feature at the Annie Awards.

Year Award Category Recipients Result
1997 Saturn Award Best Home Video Release Cats Don't Dance Won
Annie Award Best Animated Feature
Music in a Feature Production Randy Newman (songs)
Steve Goldstein (score) Nominated
Directing in a Feature Production Mark Dindal
Producing in a Feature Production David Kirschner
Paul Gertz
Effects Animation John Allan Armstrong
Bob Simmons
Character Animation in a Feature Production Frans Vischer (Darla Dimple and Max)
Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Animated Feature Cats Don't Dance
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Animated Family Movie
1998 Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing - Animated Feature
Best Sound Editing - Music Animation
2013 Best Sound Editing - Animated Feature Film, Domestic and Foreign Richard Partlow
1998 OFTA Film Award Best Animated Picture Bill Bloom
Paul Gertz
David Kirschner
Young Artist Award[24] Best Performance in a Voiceover - TV or Film - Young Actress Ashley Peldon


  1. ^ a b c "Cats Don't Dance". The Numbers. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  2. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 172. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "Casting". Cats Don't Dance Production Notes. Warner Bros. 1997 – via
  4. ^ "Michael hard at work on 'Cats Don't Dance'". Reading Eagle. June 15, 1993. p. A10. Retrieved March 28, 2016 – via Google News Archives.
  5. ^ Beck, Marilyn; Jenel Smith, Stacy (November 25, 1994). "Mel Gibson expected to star in outer-space 'Treasure Island'". Bangor Daily News. p. C12 – via Google News Archives.
  6. ^ a b c d Mark Dindal (November 2000). "Mark Dindal's Place in the Sun" (Interview). Interviewed by Joe Strike. Animation World Magazine. p. 4. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "About the Production...". Cats Don't Dance Production Notes. Warner Bros. 1997 – via
  8. ^ "Frans Vischer | Animation Guild". The Animation Guild. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Tatara, Paul (April 5, 1997). "'Cats Don't Dance', but they sure are funny". CNN. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Eileen (June 14, 1997). "Fox Picks Up 'Casper'; Fox Lorber Does Reality". Billboard. p. 68. Retrieved February 1, 2022 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Figueiredo, Rodney (September 27, 2002). "Cats Don't Dance". Animated Views. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  12. ^ "Cats Don't Dance". Amazon. November 2016.
  13. ^ "Warner Archive Announces September Releases". August 2023.
  14. ^ "Cats Don't Dance (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  15. ^ McCarthy, Todd (March 21, 1997). "Film Reviews: Cats Don't Dance". Variety.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 28, 1997). "Cats Don't Dance". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 1, 2022 – via
  17. ^ Petrakis, John (March 26, 1997). "'Cats Don't Dance' Offers a Timeless Message for Kids, Adults". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  18. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (March 26, 1997). "What Danny the Cat Learns About Hollywood". The New York Times. p. C18. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  19. ^ Mathews, Jack (March 16, 1997). "'Cats' Tries to Mix Parody and Nostalgia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  20. ^ Kempley, Rita (March 1997). "'Cats Don't Dance". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  21. ^ Horwitz, Jane (March 28, 1997). "The Family Filmgoer". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  22. ^ Horn, John (June 1, 1997). "Can Anyone Dethrone Disney?". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  23. ^ "1997's Biggest Studio Disgraces". The Stinkers. Archived from the original on October 10, 1999. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  24. ^ "19th Youth In Film Awards". Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2011.



Once upon a time, there was a princess and a peasant.

She lived atop a hill in a glittering castle.

There she had a servant who kept her castle in order...

... selected and pressed her robes for the day...

... prepared her royal breakfast and served it to her in her chambers.

Continue reading...

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