Hobbyist reviewer Harry Casey-Woodward compares some of the fluffiest, scratchiest performances in cinematic history….
Cats have dominated our media- acting cute and idiotic before cameras was surely a key part of their world invasion plan, and nowhere have they been more amusing and beguiling than on film. So here is a short list of the best cats to claw, spit and hiss their way across our screens. Possibly an idea for an Academy Award category?
5. The alley cat swingers from AristoCats, 1970
It might not be correct to feature animated cats but I couldn’t pass off the most feline of all family films. This classic has a gallery of colourful cat characters, but the most enjoyable are the controversially named ‘swingers’ or alley cats, musical squatters who play raucous swing music in abandoned Paris buildings. Their most famous ditty is about how every individual desires to attain feline status. They may be threatening to the mouse character, one of them is a racist Asian stereotype and who knows what street crime they indulge in to fund their catnip habits. But dang, do they know how to have a good time.
4. The Siamese twins in
Lady and the Tramp, 1955
A couple more Disney characters in one of the studio’s most bizarre and racist scenes. In this canine romance, a dog hating old matron takes over Lady’s house and leaves a basket in the lounge. Out of it slither a perfectly choreographed pair of head-bobbing Siamese cats singing in high pitched Asian accents. In typical feline fashion, they go on to cause as much trouble as they can find, with Lady frantically chasing after them. They even manage to frame her for their mess. As fiendish as these negative racial stereotypes are, their song is still damn catchy years after viewing.
3. Spiteful farm cat in Babe, 1995
An actually villainous cat this time, rather than just comically evil and none get more evil than the fluffy farm cat in Babe. She scratches our porky hero’s nose simply for trying to make friends with her. She’s put outside in the rain by the angry farmer, but she slips back in and at first appears to be kinder to Babe. Then she lets slip that people eat pigs, causing him to run away from the farm. Not only is her behaviour viciously spiteful for no reason, it also feels horribly cat-like. Plus she sounds like she’s voiced by some psychotic grandmother.
2. Mr. Tinkles from Cats & Dogs, 2001
Everyone knows the white fluffy cat essential for the lap of every spy villain. But what if the cat was the villain? The result is horror and hilarity, as the power-hungry white fluffball in Cats & Dogs finds the megalomaniac image he wants to build for himself somewhat spoilt by his name: something his adoring nanny never refrains from reminding him of. Nevertheless, it is funny and scary to see the villain’s lapcat making ridiculously genius plans for world domination. Let’s not forget his most adorable and deadly henchman, the Russian kitty. There’s something unnerving about an armed kitten with a thick Russian accent who can cough up dog poo.
1. Yzma from Emperor’s New Groove, 2000
Is Yzma, the power-hungry bad-tempered crone from Disney’s Inca comedy The Emperor’s New Groove, one of the best Disney villains ever? She gets even better at the end of the film, when she literally gets a taste of her own medicine and is transformed into a cute, cuddly cat by one of her potions. Turning into a fluffball does nothing to affect her diabolical personality (although she is disgusted at her new squeaky voice). It does, however, make hilarious viewing.