The Cat Returns

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Rating: G

Starring:
Anne Hathaway as Haru
Cary Elwes as The Baron
Elliott Gould as Toto
Peter Boyle as Muta
Tim Curry as Cat King
Andy Richter as Notoru
Rene Auberjonois as Natori
Judy Greer as Yuki
Andrew Bevis as Prince Lune
Kristen Bell as Hiromi
Kristine Sutherland as Haru’s Mother
Katia Coe as Little Haru

Special Features:
Behind The Microphone With Voice Talent From The Film Including Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, And More

The Making Of The Cat Returns

Complete Storyboards — Get An Insider’s Look At The Film’s Artistry

Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
Japanese and French Language
Running Time: 75 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in Japan by Hayao Miyazaki in 2002 and was recently re-dubbed in English by Disney. It reunites a few characters from the film Whisper of the Heart. The following is from the DVD cover:

“From the creators of the Academy Award® winning Spirited Away (Best Animated Feature Film, 2002) comes the visually stunning The Cat Returns, a spectacular animated journey to a world of magic and adventure. Haru, a schoolgirl bored by her ordinary routine, saves the life of an unusual cat, and suddenly her world is transformed beyond anything she ever imagined. The Cat King rewards her good deed with a flurry of presents, including a very shocking proposal of marriage to his son! Haru embarks on an unexpected journey to the Kingdom of Cats where her eyes are opened to a whole other world and her destiny is uncertain. To change her fate, she’ll need to learn to believe in herself and appreciate her everyday life. Featuring the sensational voice talents of Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Tim Curry, and Elliott Gould, The Cat Returns is a magical animated adventure that will delight and inspire everyone.”

The Cat Returns is rated G.

The Movie:
My kids and I all watched The Cat Returns together and we enjoyed it quite a bit. It is an amusing, imaginative adventure that has something for everyone. We were immediately hooked when Haru saved the cat’s life. The cat stands up, thanks her, and promises to reward her. It’s then that you enter the surreal magical world of the cats.

The movie is quite funny. As the cats visit Haru to thank her, the cat king is surrounded by an entourage of Secret Service-like bodyguards. The cats then begin to inadvertently make Haru’s life miserable by getting her gifts of mice, catnip, and other stuff. She later meets Muta, a hilarious fat, surly cat that provides a lot of the comedy late in the film. In fact, this is almost two movies in one. You have the first half where the cats harass Haru in Japan, then the second half where she travels to the Kingdom of Cats.

Just like with all the other Disney re-dubs of Miyazaki’s films, the voice cast is superb. Anne Hathaway is perfectly cast as Haru. Her character is very similar to Mia in The Princess Diaries. Her exasperation with the cats, her sense of wonder, and her shyness make her a lot of fun to watch and sympathize with. Cary Elwes is appropriately aristocratic and debonair as The Baron. Peter Boyle is also well cast as the fat and lazy Muta. He, too, is similar to his Everybody Loves Raymond character. Rounding out the cast are Elliott Gould as Toto, Tim Curry as the hippie-like Cat King, and Andy Richter as the toady Notoru.

The Cat Returns features some more beautiful animation from Miyazaki. The human-like cats are hilarious in the mannerisms and movements. One particularly exciting scene features Haru being kidnapped by a herd of cats (or is it a pride?). It is so funnily animated and fast paced that you are really drawn into the action. Another wonderfully animated, action packed scene takes place at the end when our heroes find themselves in free-fall. The animation really makes you feel like the characters are in jeopardy.

If you like any of Miyazaki’s other films, then you’ll want to check out The Cat Returns. Cat lovers will especially enjoy it. And if you like Anne Hathaway, her personality really shines through as Haru. The Cat Returns ends up being a lot of fun for kids and adults.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD:

Behind The Microphone – This is a short video highlighting the voice talent from the Disney redub of the film. They include interviews with Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Tim Curry, Elliot Gould, Peter Boyle, and Andy Richter.

The Making Of The Cat Returns – This is an hour long “making of” video from Japanese television. They discuss how this movie was spun off of an idea for a movie for a theme park. It’s a very interesting story though it is almost longer than the film itself.

Complete Storyboards – The second disc contains the entire film in nothing but storyboard format. I didn’t care for it, but animation fans will enjoy it.

Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers – Japanese trailers are always really strange and this one is no exception. Definitely check it out.

The Bottom Line:
If you like cats, comedy, animation, or Anne Hathaway, then you’ll want to check out The Cat Returns. It’s fun for both kids and adults.

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