That Darn Cat (1997)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, depspite its PG rating, the movie is pretty innocuous. There are some cartoonish car chases, crashes, and explosions.
What's the story?
Bored with her quiet hometown, Patti Randall (Christina Ricci) is stirred to action when her cat D.C. finds a clue to a kidnapping of a millionaire couple's (Dean Jones and Dyan Cannon) housekeeper. Unable to persuade the local police, Patti goes to Boston and convinces FBI agent Zeke Kelso (Doug E. Doug) to investigate. In order to solve the case, Patti and Zeke follow D.C., but one disastrous misadventure follows another, including the wrongful arrest of Patti's father. D.C. eventually leads Patti to the abducted housekeeper, where she too is captured by the kidnappers. Zeke tracks Patti down and frees her. After a wild high-speed car chase through town, Zeke nabs the crooks.
Is it any good?
The good news about this remake of THAT DARN CAT is that it's almost 30 minutes shorter than the original. Christina Ricci is very likable, and Doug E. Doug steps nicely into the shoes of the fumbling FBI agent. The bad news is that this updated version tries too hard to distance itself from the squeaky-clean, idealized Disney universe of the past, setting the story in a cozy, sanitized suburb and then ridiculing it. The premise is cute, but the frenetic and strident execution lacks charm. Slightly darker and more sinister than the 1965 Disney classic, this version is watchable but obviously designed to appeal to cynical modern teens.
The comedy is fairly unsubtle and the story mostly played for cheap laughs involving the local yokels, which tend to take the focus away from Patti and Zeke's investigation. The kidnapping plot, which was treated humorously but convincingly in the original, is just a big joke here. Still, unlike many contemporary family movies, this one's not mean-spirited and makes for perfectly pleasant viewing for kids who won't watch "old" movies -- even though the original is far more entertaining.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the stereotypical characters here. Do Patti, her parents -- or anyone else -- seem like real people you know? What do you think the filmmaker made them so exaggerated? Kids who like this movie may want to compare and contrast it with the original.