Cats Don’t Dance (1997) Movie Review

Cats Don’t Dance (1997)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler


Starring: Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, Natalie Cole, Ashley Peldon, Kathy Najimy, John Rhys-Davies, Don Knotts
Director: Mark Dindal
Release Date: 26 March 1997
Language: English
Length: 75 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: Streaming on Computer
My Rating: 4/5 stars


“In this nostalgic animated version of classic MGM musicals, a star-struck kitty from Kokomo heads to Hollywood to follow his dreams of silver-screen superstardom. But discrimination awaits, as the studio moguls see little use for a feline leading man! Undaunted, our furry hero joins forces with other admirable animal actors to take the movie world by storm. Features the voices of Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, Kathy Najimy and more.” —


This is a cute little cartoon that pays homage to the golden age of Hollywood back in the 1930s and 1940s when big-budge musicals and lavish spectacles were all the rage and stars ruled Hollywood.  They cast a comedic and fun light on the prejudice and racism of the day by keeping animals marginalized into roles where they did little and said even less.  Of course, one plucky, newly arrived cat doesn’t know the rules of Hollywood and is determined to become a big star.  Naturally, the way to stardom is not easy and it is certainly not smooth.  Still, the cat is able to persevere and rise to the top in the end.  What children will not realize is that they are watching a true story, but it wasn’t animals that were treated poorly, it was African American actors and other ethnic groups.  I really appreciated that they were able to present this era in a clever and approachable way where it wouldn’t offend anyone (except Shirley Temple’s family as the villain, Darla Dimple (voiced by Ashley Peldon & Lindsay Ridgeway), bears a striking resemblance to her) and you can still watch it for its entertainment value.

This cartoon feature has a lot of really fun and memorable songs.  Most of them are cute, involve big casts and go for big laughs. This movie kind of reminded me of an old-fashioned musical – packed with big song & dance numbers with a simple plot.  And Darla Dimple is a fantastic villain!  She is an adorable child star who supposedly loves small animals and is beloved the world over, but she has a really black heart.  I loved watching her come unraveled by the animals – it was awesome!  I really enjoyed myself while I watching this and think that this movie is overlooked, at least by people like me, who don’t have children at home and catch movies like this by chance.  I think this movie would be a lovely treat and a change of pace from a lot of the more popular animated features out there.  Definitely take the time to look this one up if you have children at home or just enjoy watching animated movies yourself.  For those of you who enjoy classic black and white cinema, this movie does give off that vibe (even though it is in color) and it is fun to try and identify the animated versions of the famous stars of the day, not to mention the updated movie posters at the end of the film.  Worth the time to watch online or to rent in the store.


This movie contains mild cartoon-style violence, but is pretty clean otherwise.  Recommended to viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Comedy Movies, Musicals

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