Top Cat Begins
Top Cat Begins (also known in Spanish as Don Gato: El Inicio de la Pandilla, literally Top Cat: The Start of the Gang) is a 2015 Indian-Mexican computer-animated comedy film, produced by Ánima Estudios and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in Mexico. Based on the Hanna-Barbera animated television series, Top Cat, this film is a prequel to both the series and the previous film, taking place before Top Cat met his gang.
|Top Cat Begins|
UK release poster
|Directed by||Andrés Couturier|
|Produced by||Fernando de Fuentes|
Jose C. Garcia de Letona
|Screenplay by||Jim Krieg|
|Based on||Top Cat|
|Music by||Leoncio Lara Bon|
|Edited by||Patrick Danse|
Discreet Arts Productions
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||MX$54.1 million|
Internationally, the film was later released in the United Kingdom on 27 May 2016, distributed by Kaleidoscope Film Distribution and Warner Bros. UK, where it was met with negative reviews and was a major box office bomb.
The film has grossed a worldwide total $4.6 million on an $8 million budget.
The film was released on 29 September 2017 in the United States on home video and digital platforms, distributed by Viva Pictures.
It starts off at a club owned by Mr. Big called The Starlight Club. Most people who come there are rich and constantly shown throwing money everywhere. Then we see Top Cat, Choo-Choo, Fancy-Fancy and Brain enter the club and cause the waiter to get beaten up while they enter the kitchen testing the food. The waiter followed them and Top Cat tricks him by saying that he is the health inspector and the food is bad the waiter suggests he should speak to Mr. Big. Top Cat agrees then the gang go on the Elevator to Mr. Big's office once they were gone the waiter called Mr. Big and said that the health inspector is coming to his office but the real health inspector is getting paid by Mr. Big and he sends his goons to beat the living daylight out of the fake health inspector. While the gang are on the elevator, Mr. Big's goons come in and chase after them they then go into an area in the club where a cat is singing All About That Bass while she is doing that the gang sneak up backstage where they escape the club. Then they get stuck on the lift then a strange figure comes and volunteers to help the gang Top Cat disagrees but the elevator started to fall.
Then Top Cat flashbacks to the day he came to New York City when he heard a horrible sound he told the cat to stop playing it the cat agrees and says he needs to make more money to buy dough but Top Cat says that he would help him if he gets most of the money the cat aggress and says his name is Benny the Ball and the two make money with Benny playing the violin with horrible skills. When it was the end of the day TC suggests they should go to Mrs. B's place on the way they bump into two orphans who stole cakes from the bakery just then an officer called Officer Charlie Dibble comes and tries to arrest them but TC defends them and tells him they had been with him all day. Dibble trusts him and leaves the orphans then the orphans tell Top Cat about Bad Dog and if they don't get enough money he would burn the orphanage down. Top Cat says he would talk to him but Bad Dog beats him before he could say a word. TC and Benny go to Mrs. B's place where they are about to eat dinner but they get stew. While Benny is enjoying it TC doesn't like it and suggests if he and Benny would work together he should be cool and he shouldn't eat horrible food.
The next day TC and Benny pull cons on the New York residents which causes the New York City Police Department to be onto them and they choose Officer Dibble to spy on the two. Later that day TC and Benny go into an apartment and try to con more people when they ring the doorbell but the person turns out to be Officer Dibble and he chases them all over the city until he loses them TC and Benny then bump into Bad Dog and company and Bad Dog threatens them to stop playing cons and throw them in a garbage can can soon they find out that they work for Mr. Big and TC plans to rob the place by switching the bags that Bad Dog has once they rob the place TC chooses Benny to keep it for him. Later in the night TC and Benny are at the Starlight Club when they get taken to the kitchen and get knocked out. The two suddenly find themselves in Mr. Big's office. Mr. Big then forces them to tell him where his diamonds are and TC suggests that he would show him. Mr. Big agrees and tells Bad Dog to go with them. When they got to Benny's house TC asks him where the diamonds where but Benny forgot so TC tricks Bad Dog to get eaten by a chair and the two escape from the house. The next day Mr. Big's goons make wanted posters for Top Cat and Benny so the two call Officer Dibble to help them but Dibble suggests Granny Dibble should look after them so Dibble escorts them to the train station.
Once they get to their destination they meet Granny Dibble who isn't what the two think she is. She then forces them to do chores and eat crackers. While painting the fence Top Cat gets knocked out by three cats from the circus that got fired because they let out the lion and Top Cat agrees to help the three cats who's names are Choo-Choo, Brain and Fancy-Fancy but instead of helping them he tricks them into doing his chores. Later that day they go to get ice cream but on the way a gangster spots TC and Benny and reports them to Bad Dog. Once they get back they find Bad Dog and company and they try to kill them but luckily Granny Dibble saves them. Top Cat and Benny return to New York at the evening and TC gets mad at Benny because he spent money on a chocolate bar. Benny then feels sad and walks away.
Later that night Benny gets home and his mom tell him she sold the diamonds to the starlight club so Benny goes on a mission to steal the diamonds back. Later that night TC goes into Officer Dibble's house and tells him about Benny left him and Dibble suggests that they should find him. Meanwhile, Benny sneaks into the club and discuses himself as a singer but then he gets caught and is chased around the club suddenly TC and Dibble arrive but get chased down by an angry mob and Benny gets captured by Mr. Big's goons. To save Top Cat, Dibble sends him to Florida. While at the airport, he realizes that all he needs is friends and returns to New York then Choo-Choo, Brain and Fancy-Fancy and they agree to help Top Cat.
Then Top Cat agrees for the guy to help and he reveals his name is Spook, a pizza cat who lost his true love Eleanor the Motorcycle because of Mr. Big and the five make a plan to rescue Benny the Ball.
Suddenly Mr. Big's goons shoot a pizza box and all there is a recording of Top Cat's voice and Top Cat disguises himself as a businessman and make the residents chase down Mr. Big. To get away Mr. Big climbs up a chain. To stop him, Top Cat and Benny cut the chain. The next day Top Cat apologizes to Benny and tells his gang to meet him at Hoagy's Alley. Meanwhile, the residents and Dibble turn Mr. Big in. Later that day Top Cat buries Mr. Big's diamonds under the alley but it ends up giving it to the two orphans and the film ends with Top Cat's gang singing the original theme song.
- Jason Harris Katz as Top Cat/ Choo-Choo/ Brain
- Chris Edgerly as Benny the Ball
- Diedrich Bader as Bad Dog
- Darin De Paul as Mr. Big
- Bill Lobley as Officer Charlie Dibble
- Dave Boat as Chief Thumbton
- Charlie Adler as Granny Dibble
- Matthew Piazzi as Fancy-Fancy
- Lauri Fraser as Mrs. B
- Benjamin Diskin as Spook
- Marieve Herington as Panther
- Joey D'Auria as Rat
- Patty Mattson as Furletta Duchat
- David Shaughnessy as Maitre D' / Suspicious Guy (voice)
- Nick Shakoour as Goon No. 1 (voice)
- Steve Blum as Goon No. 2 / Muscle Dog (voice)
- Grey DeLisle as Kittens (voice)
- Diane Michelle as Lady Tourist (voice)
- Rachael MacFarlane as Lady at Speaker (voice)
- Pamela Chollet as Sales Lady Pie Shop (voice)
- Jim Ward as Stage Manager / Driver (voice)
- G. K. Bowes as Flight Attendant (voice)
- Sean Kenin as Additional Voices (voice)
- Susan Boyajian as Additional Voices (voice) (as Sue Boyajian)
After the success of the first Top Cat film from 2011, the filmmakers at Ánima Estudios began development of another film based on the Hanna-Barbera property, but with the idea of an origin story. The original Top Cat cartoon, which ran on ABC from 1961 to 1962, has already gained massive popularity in Latin America during the time of its run, mainly due to the show's well-performed dubbing and translation. The film was in development for 10 months. While expressing their 'confidence', getting the rights of a Hanna-Barbera property was difficult for the producers. The company's rights to develop a film based on Top Cat has been previously accomplished for the 2011 film, so Warner Bros., the current owner of all HB properties, have maintained the same 'confidence' of working with the Mexican animation studio. Producer Jose C. Garcia de Letona called the film "a work of persuasion and persistence" since he also stated that the company "knows and understands the character".
Director Andrés Couturier, who has also directed another film adaptation of a classic animation property, Kung Fu Magoo based on Mr. Magoo, has been attached to direct the animated prequel film since he has grew up watching the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon, stating that the character has "influenced" him. "Some people say that the Don Gato (Top Cat) [character] in this movie looks a lot like me, [and] I think I [do] look a lot like him because my whole childhood was very influenced by the character, so I worked with a character who was with you during all your childhood [which] is incredible," said Couturier.
Unlike the previous film, which was animated in 2D Adobe Flash, the film was animated entirely in computer-generated imagery, according to producer Jose Garcia de Letona. Animation production is handled by Discreet Arts Productions in India, which previously collaborated with Ánima's past project, Guardians of Oz, which is also CG.
The animation process was an 'important' step for the entire company. Producer Garcia de Letona has stated that, while confessing their interest for 2D animated productions, they wanted to reach a bigger market that are focused on CG distribution. "[It's] a style that catches the attention of distributors," he said.
Rafael González, the film's art director, stated that the film's animation was a "challenge" due to the production's full transition to CG. "It was a challenge[.] [I]t seemed important to preserve the graphic and aesthetic essence of the original series [-] that the character was still Don Gato (Top Cat) despite having been translated into this new volumetric universe," said González. Rafael González, who also worked for the preceding film, was not a fan of the original cartoon at the time, but recognizing the popularity between in Latin America and the United States. "I did not watch the series at the time[.] I knew it was broadcast, but I think it was very small," he said. González also added that he, "had a great opportunity in the first film, [where] I had to do conceptual art, which is a great pride. I did not live in that era of Don Gato (Top Cat), so it was my turn when interest opened with the new film and now, with 'Don Gato, El Incio de la Pandilla' (Top Cat: The Start of the Gang), we are trying to present a new version for the new generations."
The film's screenplay is written by James Krieg (known for writing the Scooby-Doo television shows), Doug Langdale, and Jorge Ramírez-Suárez. To help the plot match the premise of the original cartoon, Warner Bros. Animation has accompanied with the film's writing process, to which producer Garcia de Letona calls it "welcom[ing] and grateful[...]"
For the English version, Jason Harris Katz, the voice of Top Cat and other characters from the first film, has announced via his Twitter that he will reprise his role as the same character. It was also announced that voice actors Chris Edgerly, Bill Lobley, Hope Levy, and David Hoffman, have also joined the English cast.
The film was composed by Leoncio Lara, who said "we wanted to show the spirit of the original show and that meant the music we wanted to keep that jazz Broadway feel to the movie but update it so it can fit the cinematic approach". The film also had popular pop and recognisable songs to get the kids to see the movie.
The film was released on 30 October 2015 in Mexico, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Mexico and confirmed to release in the rest of Latin America.
The film is followed by a United Kingdom release on 27 May 2016, distributed by Kaleidoscope Film Distribution and Warner Bros. Pictures UK. "We are very excited to be working with Ánima Estudios, [by] bringing this latest chapter of Top Cat to a worldwide audience," said Spencer Pollard, CEO of KFD. "As a leading global animation brand, we’re looking forward to T.C. and his friends hitting [the] screens everywhere in 2016." The film's UK release and English-language trailer was released on 8 March 2016.
On its opening weekend in the United Kingdom, the film was a major box-office bomb, debuting at No. 15, with X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass leading, and only earning £0.06 million ($0.1 million USD).
It was released on DVD in the United States on 10 October 2017 from Cinedigm.
The film has received negative reviews, with critics criticizing the animation, directing, pacing, and writing, but praising the film's dubbing and attempt to revive the original show's characters. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 17%, based on 6 reviews, with an average rating of 3/10.
Carlos Del Río of Cine Premiere gave this film a 1 star rating, saying that the film has "[c]heated again. [The] Top Cat film fails to approach the spirit and humor of the TV series." Eddie Harrison, writing in The List, gave the film 3/5 stars, saying, "The feline favourite returns for a likeably familiar, knockabout animation. As with J. J. Abrams' first Star Trek movie, there's a reasonable amount of fun in seeing how the iconic characters originally met each other...director Andrés Couturier's film wisely scales things down as it attempts to get back to the comedic values of its source material." British critic Mark Kermode was scathing, describing the film as "tooth-gratingly terrible".
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