Cats Don't Dance
Cats dont dance poster
Directed by Mark Dindal
Produced by Bill Bloom
Timothy Campbell
David Kirschner
Paul Gertz
Written by Mark Dindal
Robert Lence
Brian McEntee
Rick Schneider
David Womersley
Kelvin Yasuda
Starring Scott Bakula
Jasmine Guy
Natalie Cole
Ashley Peldon
John Rhys-Davies
Kathy Najimy
Don Knotts
Music by Steve Goldstein (score)
Randy Newman (songs)
Distributed by Turner Pictures
Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
Release date(s) March 28, 1997
Running time 74 minutes
Country Flag of the United States United States
Language English
Budget US$32,000,000 [1]
Gross revenue $3,566,637

Cats Don't Dance is a 1997 animated musical film, notable as the only fully animated feature produced by Turner Entertainment's feature animation unit (later merged into Warner Bros. Animation, Turner Feature Animation had also produced the animated portions of The Pagemaster in 1994). The film was distributed to movie theaters by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. Set in a world where human beings and anthropomorphic animals live side-by-side, it focuses on a cat named Danny who wants to break into show business in Hollywood.

The film features the voices of Scott Bakula and Jasmine Guy, and was the directorial debut of former Disney animator Mark Dindal. It is also notable for its musical numbers, written by Randy Newman, and for Gene Kelly's contributions as choreographer. Cats Don't Dance was Kelly's final film project, and the film is dedicated to him.


An ambitious young cat named Danny, who dreams of becoming a movie star, travels from his small hometown of Kokomo, Indiana to Hollywood. There, Danny finds animal talent agent Farley Wink and his secretary, a sassy, cynical, but stunning lady cat named Sawyer, with whom Danny falls in love. Danny is admitted into a small role in Mammoth Pictures' Li'l Ark Angel, the latest film featuring the spoiled child actress Darla Dimple, "America's Sweetheart, Lover of Children and Animals," and is enthusiastic until he realizes the role's insignificance. Determined to become more central, he takes matters into his own hands, turning his one line of "meow" into an impressive bit of music, but in doing so upstages Darla Dimple, who takes this as an insult and sends her valet Max (a massive, rigid parody of Erich von Stroheim's portrayal of Max von Mayerling from Sunset Boulevard[2][3]) to punish Danny.

One night thereafter Danny learns from the studio's mascot, Woolly the Mammoth, that all of the other animals who came to Hollywood sharing Danny's ambitions are reassigned to the supporting cast, including Sawyer's, while the humans assume central roles. Danny therefore organizes an impromptu dance session in an alley so as to remind the animals of their reason for coming to Hollywood. Here he convinces Sawyer, with some difficulty, to resume her former practice of dancing and begins to make a plan for the advancement of their positions. During this dance session, Darla Dimple hears the animals' music from afar in the studio and realizes that their talent may outstrip her own.

Taking the animals as a threat to her stardom, Darla invites Danny to her mansion so she could "apologize" for what Max did the other day and offers to call studio boss L.B. Mammoth to arrange a chance for Danny and his friends to perform for him. Danny accepts this offer openly and enlists the assistance of all the animals. Darla, rather than allow them the opportunity instead floods the sound stage, destroying a nearby press release and blaming the animals for it. The animals involved in the incident are summarily expelled from the studio and told that they will "never nibble-kibble in this town again". Outside the studio, Darla's deception was revealed when she told Danny it was "nice working with you." Defeated, Danny prepares to return to Kokomo, but soon changes his mind and conspires with his penguin friend Pudge to demonstrate the animals' skill.

Danny therefore sneaks into the studio and invites all of the animals to the premiere of Darla's film. After the film's end (and a fairly intense confrontation between Max and Danny atop Grauman's Chinese Theater, ending with Max floating away on a gigantic balloon made to resemble Darla), Danny addresses the audience, informing them that he and his friends will sing and dance as requested, Danny says, by Ms. Darla Dimple. The others thinking he will only ruin their lives more leave only to be held (literally) back by Sawyer and Tillie. After a small argument Danny says that if they accept what the humans think of them they can leave (to the shock of the others). Danny reminds them that the humans "slammed the door in their face", but they still stayed to pursue their dreams. At this, the animals perform a spectacular song and dance scene. Darla's outrageous attempts to stop them result only in enhancement to their performance and in pain to herself. The production number is a resounding success; Darla, trying to prove that she is the true star, recklessly screams at Danny through a microphone tangled on her back that got caught on her as she was falling, accidentally exposing her activities and character. Darla is then tipped down a trap door by Pudge, shouting out for Max.

Max, drifting over Paris at this point, responds slowly to her call: "Oui, Miss Dimple!"

L.B. and the director Flanagan apologize for the mistakes they have made. The animals are given starring roles from then on, creating a number of amusing parodies of classic films. After the movie poster parodies, it is revealed that Darla has lost her fame (but not her family fortune) and has become a grumpy janitor.

Voice cast[]

  • Scott Bakula as Danny, an ambitious, optimistic cat and the protagonist of the film. Danny desperately wants to become a famous Hollywood star, and is thrilled when he and his friends are invited to Hollywood.
  • Jasmine Guy as Sawyer (speaking), a sassy but cynical cat receptionist and the deuteragonist of the film. She gets to live out her dream of being a singer and dancer with a little persuasion from Danny.
  • Natalie Cole as Sawyer (singing)
  • Ashley Peldon as Darla Dimple (speaking), the child star of Hollywood and the main antagonist of the film. When Danny inadvertently humiliates her, she will stop at nothing to get her revenge. She ultimately gets her comeuppance when, trying to prove that she is the true star, she accidentally reveals her actions to the audience and consequently gets fired.
  • Lindsay Ridgeway as Darla Dimple (singing)
  • Kathy Najimy as Tillie Hippo
  • John Rhys-Davies as Woolie Mammoth
  • George Kennedy as L.B. Mammoth
  • Rene Auberjonois as Flanagan
  • Betty Lou Gerson as Frances Albacore
  • Hal Holbrook as Cranston Goat
  • Matthew Herried as Peabo "Pudge" Pudgemyer
  • Don Knotts as T.W., a somewhat nervous and superstitious turtle.
  • Mark Dindal as Max, Darla's enormous manservant and personal assistant. He obeys Darla's every command, and will not hesitate to punish anyone who crosses her. Max functions as an antagonist in his own right, albeit a secondary one.
  • Frank Welker as Farley Wink
  • David Johansen as Bus Driver

Soundtrack album listing[]

  1. "Our Time Has Come" - James Ingram, Carnie Wilson
  2. "I Do Believe" - Will Downing
  3. "Danny's Arrival Song" - Scott Bakula
  4. "Little Boat on the Sea" - Lindsay Ridgeway, Scott Bakula
  5. "Animal Jam" - Scott Bakula
  6. "Big and Loud (Part 1)" - Lindsay Ridgeway
  7. "Big and Loud (Part 2)" - Lindsay Ridgeway
  8. "Tell Me Lies" - Natalie Cole
  9. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" - Natalie Cole, Scott Bakula, Kathy Najimy
  10. "Darla's Premiere" - Steve Goldstein
  11. "Once Upon a Time..." - Steve Goldstein
  12. "Danny's Theme" - Steve Goldstein
  13. "Farley's Office" - Steve Goldstein
  14. "Reporting for Work" - Steve Goldstein
  15. "Max Enters" - Steve Goldstein
  16. "Tea Time for Danny" - Steve Goldstein
  17. "The Flood" - Steve Goldstein
  18. "Battle with Max" - Steve Goldstein
  19. "Triumph of the Animals" - Steve Goldstein
  20. "Our Time Has Come" [Movie Version] - James Ingram, Carnie Wilson

Release and response[]

Warner Bros. attached Pullet Surprise, a newly produced Looney Tunes short featuring Foghorn Leghorn, to Cats Don't Dance for its original theatrical release, and The Big Sister, a Dexter's Laboratory's What-A-Cartoon! short, to the film for its original home entertainment release.

Cats Don't Dance was released to mixed to positive reviews (it has a 67% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and became a casualty of the Turner/Time Warner merger: it received a traditional theatrical release in 1997 but without fanfare and did not draw an audience, perhaps due to minimal advertising, a lack of promotional merchandise (only two book adaptations and a set of toys from Subway) and having only one theatrical trailer prepared. Director Mark Dindal was outraged at the lack of advertising and blamed Warner Bros. for that outcome. It was also overshadowed by the overlapping releases of The Devil's Own and the re-release of Return of the Jedi, the last of the Star Wars trilogy "Special Edition" re-releases. Its total domestic theatrical gross was $3,566,637[4], making it a box office bomb in contrast with its $32 million production budget.[5]

Despite the film's poor reception, the film was the first animated film not made by Disney to have won the Best Animated Feature award at the 1997 Annie Awards. Since then, it has developed a very large cult following, thanks to video and DVD releases and occasional TV airings on ABC Family and Cartoon Network and later, Boomerang.

Popular culture references[]

The film takes place in April 1939 (the date is posted on Danny's script), allowing it to parody the Golden Age of Hollywood, and it features caricatures of Mae West, Bette Davis, Laurel & Hardy, W. C. Fields, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, King Kong, and Toto from The Wizard of Oz. The art and directing styles of the film reflect the influence of 1930s/1940s cartoon makers such as Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, and the artists at the Fleischer Studio. The main antagonist, Darla Dimple, is a caricature of child stars Shirley Temple, Jane Withers, and Darla Hood all rolled into one. Mammoth Pictures is a caricature of MGM, with L. B. Mammoth as Louis B. Mayer. Coincidentally, Warner Bros. and Turner Entertainment own the pre-1986 MGM film library.

Before the end credits of the film, many parody posters of famous movies starring the animals are shown. They include Singin' in the Rain, Casablanca, The Mask, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Witches of Eastwick, Grumpy Old Men, Superman, Beetlejuice, Twister, Batman & Robin and Free Willy.

Home Video Releases[]

Cats Don't Dance got its first home video release on VHS and Laserdisc on August 19, 1997 by Warner Home Video. While a standard 4:3 VHS, the Laserdisc was special in the fact that it remains to this day the only way to watch the film in its theatrical widescreen format in North America (the film is available on DVD in widescreen in Europe). The Laserdisc was never re-released and has become very rare. The VHS re-released for its second and final time on March 2, 1999.

The film saw its first DVD release on September 2, 2002, as a 4:3 pan-and-scan DVD with no bonus features. The most recent release was a re-release of the same DVD, but bundled with Quest for Camelot, which was released on May 2, 2006. In July 2008, Cats Don't Dance was released on DVD in widescreen in Germany, Spain, and the Benelux countries (Belgium/the Netherlands/Luxembourg).


External links[]

fr:Danny, le chat superstar pl:Koty nie tańczą ru:Коты не танцуют sv:Katter dansar inte