That Darn Cat (Live Action)

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) No
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 85:44 minutes Other Extras No
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Bob Spiers
Walt Disney Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Hayley Mills
Doug E Doug
George Dzundza 
Peter Boyle
Michael McKean
Bess Armstrong
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Richard Kendall Gibbs

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    If there is one thing worse than a sequel, it is a remake. Once again, Disney delve into their back catalogue, and dig out their 1965 film That Darn Cat! (starring Dean Jones and Hayley Mills), dust off the script and update it to the 1990s - albeit not with quite the same degree of success.

    For those unfamiliar with the original film, the story goes something like this: Mr and Mrs Flint (Dean Jones and Dyan Cannon), wealthy couple of Boston, MA have their maid kidnapped by some bunglers who think she is Mrs Flint. Said kidnapped maid is whisked away to a hiding place in the small town of Edgefield, MA (well, actually Edgefield, SC if you care to indulge in some of the goofs in the film). Now Edgefield is typical Small Town, USA and so for one resident in the form of social misfit Patti Randall (Christina Ricci), it borders on purgatory. The bane of her mother's (Bess Armstrong's) existence, she makes little effort to fit in. Whilst perky mom is Mrs Small Town, USA personified, Patti seeks to be different. Edgefield to Patti is dull and boring, filled with such dubiously dull characters as Lu the local butcher(ess), who has the hots for one of the dopey security guards who patrol the town and leaves nightly offerings of choice meat cuts, and the duelling gas station owners. Now Patti has a cat by the name of D.C. (do you really need to have that explained?), who has a nightly ritual of wandering the town at 8 p.m. During one of those nightly wanderings, D.C. happens upon the hiding place of the kidnappers and the victim almost scribbles a message on the back of her watch and puts it around D.C.'s neck to take off home. When D.C. returns home, Patti finds the watch and figures out that it must be from the kidnapped maid. When her parents don't believe her theory, she goes to the local police who also do not believe her theory, so she resorts to heading to Boston to talk with the F.B.I. Here we cue Agent Zeke Kelso (Doug E Doug), a bumbling idiot of an agent, who really gives the F.B.I. a bad name. On the strength of a gut hunch, he heads to Edgefield with Patti to track down the kidnappers. In the course of the next hour of mayhem, D.C. leads everyone a merry chase, Patti jumps to more conclusions (all bad) than a politician during question time, Zeke makes an even bigger idiot of himself than a politician during question time, and since this is a Disney film we all know what happens.

    The story is not a classic, and the film definitely is not. I vaguely recall seeing the original film some years ago and believe me that was no classic either. Full of annoying clichéd characters, or in the case of Doug E Doug just plain annoying characters, this is quite a predictable effort. Still, if you can suspend the brain for the required period of time it is mildly amusing. Christina Ricci seems to be getting more and more typecast, as she seems to play only darker characters, which is actually not a bad thing as she does it pretty well. This is a little less of a dark character for her, although by Disney standards it is still pretty dark. At times she does get a tad annoying, but then the material with which she has to work is not exactly Premium Grade. Doug E Doug has been blessed with an even more annoying character (or is that caricature?) and invokes the urge to throw things at the screen with regularity. The rest are pretty much forgettable. The direction is pretty much forgettable too, by what would appear to be another unknown rent-a-director type.

    Even though it does have a few moments, this is not an especially great comedy but in some way does manage to entertain for ninety minutes, which I suppose is not to be ignored. At least it has Christina Ricci, which to be honest is the only reason I stuck my hand up to review this effort.

Transfer Quality


    This is not too bad a transfer, lacking a little in refinement but eminently watchable.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is actually quite a decently sharp transfer throughout, with just a few noticeable lapses here and there. Detail is pretty good, too, including the extended night scenes, although there were again a couple of instances where there was a bit of a lapse. Generally, it is a nice clear transfer, with only minor grain problems cropping up now and then. There were no low level noise problems in the transfer.

    This is a reasonably vibrant transfer, although lacking in opportunities for colours to really shine, however the colours are very nicely rendered throughout and this really is a very believable-looking transfer - skin tones were pretty much spot on throughout which is always a good sign. There were no real problems with oversaturation of colours at all and colour bleed was not an issue.

    Apart from the loss of some focus and cohesion in the pan shot at around 1:25 (especially the candlestick) there are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were no real problems with film-to-video artefacts, although aliasing was somewhat of a problem when venetian blinds were predominant in the picture. There was not much in the way of film artefacts present in the film, and even those present were not much of a distraction.


    The video transfer is married to a similar sort of audio transfer.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack I stuck with the English default as I really do not want to hear an Italian or French dub of Doug E Doug. Cue the usual rant about Disney DVDs not allowing you to select language options on the fly.

    The dialogue was clear and generally easy to understand throughout.

    There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The music score comes from Richard Kendall Gibbs, and it has left virtually no impression on me at all. The theme tune is especially annoying though, so I cannot say that the score has left completely no impression on me.

    There is really not much else to say about the soundtrack. The film is one that does not call for excessive use of the bass channel, and even when the opportunity does arise for bass support, it is handled in a rather reserved way. Surround channel use was decent if not anything special, and the rear channels in particular could have been used a little better than they were, however the overall soundscape is quite convincing and quite believable.


    Well, That Darn Disney are not getting any better in this area now are they?


    Well, at least it gets some use this time since the DVD starts at the menu. Not much to write home about though.

R4 vs R1

    This film has yet to grace the Region 1 release sheets, so once again we have a Region 4 winner.


    That Darn Cat is a not especially memorable remake, but if you switch off the brain for ninety minutes it is at least a piece of mindless entertainment. I don't think I would encourage you to rush out to buy it though, as I doubt it is a movie you would return to often, unless you are a real fan of Christina Ricci.

    A good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A non-existent extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
30th July 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL