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|Kevin Krock, editor|
I'm sure most of you are probably familiar with the adventures of Duchess and her three kittens: Madame Bonfamille's cats are due to inherit her money and be taken care of by her butler, but her scheming butler, Edgar, finds out and doesn't want to take care of the cats - he wants the money! So, he kidnaps Duchess and the kittens and takes them into the countryside to get rid of them so he will inherit the money. However, Edgar gets side tracked by a couple of dogs, and Duchess and the kittens survive but are very lost and far from home. Fortunately, they run into Thomas O'Malley the alley cat and a host of other colorful characters that help them find their way back home.
Overall, "The Aristocats" is a smooth and enjoyable movie with some great songs, like "Everybody Wants to be a Cat," classic Disney animation, and memorable and fun characters. If you are in the mood for a light story that lacks some of the intensity of other Disney features (Edgar isn't all that intimidating or evil compared to many of Disney's classic villains), then this movie should fit the bill.
As with just about all of the Gold Collection titles, don't expect a lot of goodies, or in this case, any goodies of substance. The DVD Storybook and Trivia Game are the same features as those on other Disney DVDs. You've read the drill before: The Storybook is an abbreviated version of the story in a book format that can either be read or listened to. As for the trivia game, one run through the questions, and there is no reason to ever try it again.
They do throw in a full-frame theatrical trailer, but this rather short trailer isn't a real big deal. Other than that, Disney includes a "Fun with Music" booklet in the DVD box that turns out to be just a glorified coupon booklet! About the first half of this short booklet contains music related stuff - pretty cheesy, really. Then the other half is filled with coupons for all sorts of stuff. This thing is hardly a music appreciation reference of any type, and it certainly doesn't cut it as a "bonus" item.
Overall, these "features" just come up short even for a Disney Gold Collection DVD.
The Video, Audio and Interface...
This is a fairly old movie, and the film print that was used for the transfer looked that way. Granted, these days we're used to computers coloring the animation cels so the colors are perfectly uniform across a color area, but the character colors in most scenes were fairly uneven. It just seemed that the movie could stand a bit of restoration work to clean up some of the animation which has that "aged" look to it. With that, I think on most TVs you would be hard pressed to see a significant difference between a good VHS copy and the DVD.
Sound-wise, there really isn't much to say. It is a simple stereo soundtrack that sounds clean and clear. Generally uninspiring.
As with most Gold Collection DVDs, the user interface is also pretty simple, straight forward and boring. No music, no sounds, no animated menus. Selecting movie chapters from the menus is easy, and changing the set up for the three different audio language tracks and two subtitle functions is equally easy.
Hmmm, this is a 2000 Gold Collection DVD, so that means that it must have video previews! ACK!!! They're everywhere!!! And there's no way to stop them... well, you can skip through them one-by-one, but you can't skip them completely and go straight to the menus. It's just plain annoying...
The Final Evaluation...
The movie is pretty good, especially if you like cats, and it makes for a fun movie for the whole family. The film used in the digital transfer could stand some restoration work, but the real problem with this DVD is the amount of material on the DVD versus the price. The goody package is below the "standard" even for a Disney Gold Collection, and comes up very short relative to other DVDs. Technically, the video and audio are unimpressive, and the menus are boring.
Unfortunately, this disc is about as "vanilla" as they get, and there just isn't enough reason to buy the DVD. My wife absolutely loves cats and this movie, and I had hoped that the DVD would replace our worn VHS copy. However, after I rented and watched and watched it with my family (I've become a bit hesitant to just buy the Gold Collection DVDs on sight as VHS replacements...), she told me that I was not to spend a dime on this version for her...
Well, at least it makes for a pretty good rental, but I'd pass on buying this one unless you really like the movie and don't already have a VHS copy. I'm just putting the money that I would have spent on it towards my "Toy Story" Ultimate Toy Box DVD set... ;)
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