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'That Darn Cat': Meow Mix

By Jane Horwitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
February 14, 1997

Though "That Darn Cat," a re-do of Disney’s 1965 feline farce, has clearly been purrr-eed in the Disney kiddie-flick "blander," it bares a bit more claw than the original.

The first film (also based on the book "Undercover Cat" by the Gordons) starred Hayley Mills, Dean Jones and a persnickety blue-eyed Siamese. It was long, often dull, and cloyingly cutesy-poo, except for the too-violent bad guys.

This time, the four-legged star is a swaggering tom of no fancy breed. The new "Darn Cat" moves faster, has a few more laughs, nonviolent villains who are barely seen, a never-ending car chase climax, and gives more than a passing nod to such phenomena as teenage discontent.

The story opens in the Boston mansion of wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Flint (Dean Jones, who starred as the FBI agent in the first movie, and Dyan Cannon in a delicious spoof of ’90s self-absorption). Their housekeeper (Rebecca Koon) is kidnapped out of their kitchen one night.

In the nearby hamlet of Edgefield, high-schooler Patti Randall (Christina Ricci) is bored stiff. Only her adventurous cat, D.C. (for Darn Cat, of course), makes life more tolerable.

On his nightly prowl, D.C. discovers the kidnappers’ hideout and brings back the housekeeper’s watch with most of the word "help" scratched onto the back of it. Patti goes to the FBI and recruits the barely competent greenhorn agent Zeke Kelso (likable, lanky comic Doug E. Doug), who tails that darn cat up trees, over fences and past angry bulldogs in a series of slapstick riffs that are amusing, but rarely hilarious or inventive. Add to this some unfunny business about the eccentric townspeople and there’s a lot going on in this new, slightly improved "Darn Cat." It’s just a question of sifting through the litter for the laughs.

THAT DARN CAT (PG) — Car chase mayhem but nothing too scary.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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