The Aristocats

The Aristocats (1970)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Extras: Theatrical trailer, Bonus Trailers, Trivia Game, Read-Along

So far, Disney is making good on their dedication to their ’Gold Collection’ DVD line, which will see at least one new DVD released on the first Tuesday of each month. The new release for April is the 1970 production, ’The Aristocats.’ In the film, we meet Duchess, and her three kittens. When Duchess’ owner Madame decides that she will leave her estate to the cats, evil butler Edgar decides that he will get rid of the cats so that he can collect the inheritance by default. So he drugs the cats and leaves them in the country. There, Duchess and her kittens receive assistance from an alley-cat named Thomas O’Malley and his assortment of colorful acquaintances. Duchess and her kittens must now try to find their way home to stop Edgar from completing his plan.

’The Aristocats’ plays like a cross between ’101 Dalmatians’, with the kidnapping angle, and ’Lady and the Tramp’, with the rich animal meets poor animals story, but I found it more charming than either of those films. ’The Aristocats’ takes no time in setting up its premise and keeps moving at a nice pace throughout, only stopping for one musical number, ’Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat.’ The film contains the usual Disney cartoony violence. One interesting note is that the vocal cast is made up of a who’s-who of 60’s TV — Eva Gabor (’Green Acres’), George Lindsey (’Andy Griffith’), Nancy Kulp (’The Beverly Hillbillies’), and Pat Buttram (’Green Acres’).

The Disney DVD of ’The Aristocats’ offers the film in a 1.33:1 full-frame format, which the box art claims was the film’s original aspect ratio. The picture is very clear and for a movie that is 30-years old, the colors look very nice. The digital transfer does reveal some curious flaws in the source material. In some cases, you can actually see where the original drawings on the cels were either not erased or weren’t covered with ink. (Pay close attention to the ’lines’ in Madame’s hair.) The audio is a 2-channel surround mix, with offers mostly musical cues and sound effects from the surround speakers.

The DVD featues a re-release trailer for ’The Aristocats’ which is presented full-frame. There is a 17-question trivia game and an interactive read-along. And in what is apparently going to be a main-stay on new Buena Vista discs, there are trailers before the feature presentation. On this DVD, we have ’Dinosaur’, ’The Fox and The Hound’, ’Little Mermaid II’ and ’Toy Story 2.’ Those can be skipped by repeatedly hitting the skip button. Also of note, this DVD carries a ’Customer Satisfaction Guarantee.’ I wonder why the ’Halloween:H2O’ DVD didn’t have one of those.