Turner Feature Animation had a short history before it was lumped in with Warner Bros. Animation. The studio produced two features with animation, the first being 1994’s The Pagemaster, a live-action/animation film, and 1997’s Cats Don’t Dance. David Kirshner, executive producer for An American Tail and Once Upon a Forest, also produced The Pagemaster, with many of the animators from An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and Aladdin. Production wasn’t great, with re-writes happening halfway through production. While the animation was good, the story was not, and The Pagemaster received terrible reviews upon release and made less than half of its budget in theaters.
Cats Don’t Dance came out a weird time. Turner was being merged with Time Warner, so when Cats Don’t Dance was released, it was done with very little fanfare, and failed to gain an audience. Mark Dindal directed and helped shape the story of anthropomorphic animals trying to make it in 30’s Hollywood. You may recognize Dindal’s name from Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove which was hilarious, or maybe Disney’s Chicken Little which was not. Think of this movie more in the vein of Emperor’s New Groove. Funny, with a slight preference for slapstick. I never thought I would see Scott Bakula voicing a cartoon cat and also doing his own singing, but it works really well. Randy Newman created all the songs and Gene Kelly contributed to the choreography. This was Kelly’s final film that he helped with. Critical reception for this movie was so-so at the time, but it’s better than what critics will make you think. It was even the first non-Disney movie to win Best Animated Feature at the Annie Awards. If you want a silly movie that looks back on the Golden Age of Hollywood with nostalgia, then this movie is for you.