When I saw Top Cat and co being advertised on the side of a bus recently, I became more excited by animated creatures than a man of 46 with failing eyesight should. A film? Really? Fifty years after the Hanna-Barbera classic? At last!
Top Cat repeats were such a part of my childhood (along with a crushing sense of doom and an imaginary friend who wouldn’t tell me his name) that I was pretty gleeful at the prospect of 90 new minutes of capers, scrapes, adventures and high jinx. I was giddy.
And then I read the reviews. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian: “The indisputable worst film of the year! The animation’s bad, and the script is just sad.” OK, not Peter’s cup of tea then. What about Robbie Collin in The Telegraph? “…a grievous insult not only to the original cartoon but animation in general, and also arguably cats.” Riiiight. Um, Chris Tookey in the Mail, there must be something to recommend this movie? “Abysmally scripted, crudely drawn and cheaply made, with astonishing inattention to detail… one of the worst-ever spin-offs of a TV series… strong candidate for worst family movie of the year… cynical, charmless and 90 minutes too long, which happens to be its entire running time.”
I decided not to let a bad film besmirch cherished childhood memories. But what’s this? A newspaper ad for the film, bursting with favourable quotes. “It’s brilliant… I want to see it again.” “Loved it.” “10 out of 10.”
I’m not making this up. I wonder how the promoter had found such favourable quotes amid all the poor reviews. I check the very small print next to each quote (I may have some names wrong thanks to the aforementioned 46-year-old eyes) and the person who considers the film brilliant is “Jessie, aged seven”.
Ellie, aged nine, loved it and the seasoned critic who bestowed full marks on the movie was the always reliable Artie, aged six. The promoters of the film appear to be more creative than the animators…