That Darn Cat (1997) starring Christina Ricci, Doug E. Doug, Dean Jones, George Dzundza, Peter Boyle, Michael McKean, Bess Armstrong, John Ratzenberger, Thomas F. Wilson directed by Bob Spiers Movie Review

That Darn Cat (1997)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Christina Ricci as Patti in That Darn Cat (1997)

That Tired Old Cat

There is a simple fact, the 1997 version of "That Darn Cat" is made for a target audience of young children who not only just want some comedy caper style fun but also won't even know it is a remake. As such not only does this version of "That Darn Cat" have little which entertains anyone outside of the target audience it will also disappoint those who watched the 1965 original version. Not wanting to sound cruel it almost feels like a contract piece, like its star Christina Ricci had one more movie to make for Disney and so they decided to turn to one of there lesser known 60s movies and gave it a make over so that she could appear before she became too old. But that is not the only issue as whilst the heart of the story stays the same various changes from additional characters to the focus being more on Patti than her cat D.C. just don't really work.

When two criminals mistake a maid for Mrs. Flint (Dyan Cannon) the wife of wealthy business man Mr. Flint (Dean Jones - Beethoven) they take her back to the small town of Edgefield where they hold her hostage. Edgefield is a quiet town much to the annoyance of school girl Patti Randall (Christina Ricci - Casper) who dislikes everything about the place with the exception of her pet cat D.C. who every night goes out for a prowl. When one night D.C. returns with a watch in place of his collar and half a message scribbled into the back of it Patti puts two and two together and comes up with the idea that D.C. has found where the kidnapped maid is and so somehow persuades the FBI and Agent Zeke Kelso (Doug E. Doug - Cool Runnings) to tail her cat to see if it leads them to the secret location. But for the inept Kelso tailing a crafty cat is not a simple task.

Doug E. Doug and Christina Ricci in That Darn Cat (1997)

Now whilst the heart of the story is still the same I liked the way "That Darn Cat" starts with a change which sees Dean Jones, who made his Disney debut in the 1965 version of "That Darn Cat", playing a wealthy man whose maid gets kidnapped. In fairness I liked it purely because it allows for Dean Jones to have a small part and sadly what follows on from there ended up becoming more and more disappointing as we get modernized versions of old scenes such as D.C. outsmarting a dog to steal its food to a new scene with rival mechanics on opposite sides of the road trying to sabotage each other's business.

Now the thing is that "That Darn Cat" will work for those who haven't seen the original, the comedy of a cat outsmarting everyone will amuse young audiences and Christina Ricci playing Patti with a touch of attitude will also probably amuse. Even all the various characters with their quirks from Lu who works in the butchers to Melvin who is a security guard will also bring laughs, for young audiences. But there is little which will amuse older audiences who find themselves watching as not only is much of it obvious but also daft especially a big final chase scene. It gets to the point that for older audiences there is more fun is spotting all the recognizable faces such as Thomas F. Wilson, Megan Cavanagh and Estelle Parsons than anything else.

But the thing which is missing is the charm, be it of D.C. being this crafty kitty who genuinely seems to be toying with people through to Agent Zeke Kelso who finds himself given the job of tailing him. To be fair Doug E. Doug is funny as Zeke, in an over the top away but everything he does is too stereotypical. And to be honest it is the same throughout with all the characters, but then I did end up watching the original version first and the performance of Hayley Mills and Dean Jones in the original are head and shoulders above those of Ricci and Doug.

What this all boils down to is that this version of "That Darn Cat" ended up being disappointing, not just because as a remake it didn't compare up to the original but also because it all seems so ordinary. The charm and humour of the original is lost thanks to a variety of superfluous sub plots and whilst I am sure young audiences will be amused by all the comedy it fails to deliver anything to really keep older audiences entertained at the same time.