Video clip

Type: Movie clip

Scene: Gumshoe has to get the plans out of Tokyo.

Duration: 2 mins 54 secs

Size: 9.27 mb

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This is relatively-unknown Hungarian animated film of the 80's, originally titled Macskafogo, and another member of my childhood collection, though it did take me some years before I finally got a lot of the jokes.

Movie summary

The cat-mouse rivalry has always been an easy animosity between the two enemy species, but when a mouse scientist finally designs The Ultimate Weapon To Defeat The Cats, both sides pull out all the stops: the cats to prevent it from being built, the mice to make sure it does. Brought into the fray is our hero, Gary Gumshoe of the Mouseterpol, who, to put it simply, has to save the day.


More detail

Gary Gumshoe is Secret Agent double-seven O, and he's pulled out of retirement for an important mission. A Japanese mouse scientist has developed plans for a weapon that'll finally defeat the increasing threat of cats once and for all. (Cats in this world are money-minded, blood-thirsty and little else.) So Gumshoe is given the task of fetching the plans from the scientist and sending it to the Mouseterpol research labs to be developed.

Trying to stop him is Mr D (short for Donald D'avalo), one of the leaders of a powerful cat syndicate. He is the second-in-command to Gatto, the closest thing to a cat godfather that they have, and Mr D needs to stop Gumshoe from succeeding at the cost of his own life (oh, and also to protect the welfare of cats everywhere). He hires -- via a smaller cat gangster Blacky -- a group of gangster-wannabe rats to do the actual dirty work and stop Gumshoe.

And as what seems to be a side story, there's Billy Bugle, a roly-poly and much smaller agent of Mouseterpol. By a certain sequence of events (including his plane being hijacked by cats) he ends up being stranded in the mouse equivalent of South America. There he has his own little adventure, which eventually -- by Billy's surprising heroism -- coincides with Gumshoe's own mission.


Thoughts

This movie is, simply put, a spoof. It spoofs spy movies, adventure movies, detective movies, gangster movies and other cat vs mouse stories. It carries out a strange balancing act between seriousness and slapstick humour, and there are definitely a number of jokes that little kiddies will not get. However, I have heard that the English-dubbed version (which I have) does not do justice to the original Hungarian version, so I'll just have to take their word for it. And since Cat City is a spoof, it is chock-ful with stereotypes. I don't mind them, though. That's the point of spoofs.

Gary Gumshoe, is of course, the brooding spy hero with a sense of humour. The name ‘Gumshoe’ itself is a nod to the old detective movies, and sure enough, the character does have the perfect deep voice-over voice and quirky attributes. (I like quirky.) But he’s more of a spy than a detective actually, and leans very closely to a James Bond-type character, right down to the girly sidekick. And the girly sidekick in question is Seno-san, Japanese assistant to the scientist who developed The Ultimate Weapon. I haven’t much of an opinion on Seno-san, besides that she has a very colourful kimono.

Then there's the side story of Billy Bugle & the Mexican bats. I didn't care much for Billy Bugle, but he does play a mean trumpet. While I don't fast-forward the bits where he has his own little adventure in the jungle, they do seem a little out-of-place with the spy/gangster intrigue going on back in the main cities. The bats, however, are a big honkin’ cliché all on their own, but hey, it’s all in the name of fun.

Mr D and Gatto are the main cat threats in this little world. Mr D, I don’t find particularly threatening since he basically snarls at people to get things done, but he has a wonderful design. Metal left-hand, eye-patch (with is uncovered at two points in the movie), torn ear and incomplete tail. Ooooo, Mr D has been through more scuffles than is probably healthy, but the fact that he’s still standing should be indication of how nasty he can be in a fight. It’s a contrast with Gatto, who is more elegant and exudes power without doing much. In fact, Gatto sure has the look for the part right down pat -- he's a big fluffy white cat, the sort you find The Evil Villains of various (human) spy movies stroking as they plot world domination.

Of the Rat Gang, there's Burns (who seems to be the leader), Bones, Cookie and Candy. They try hard to be real gangsters, really they do, but they just don't have the chops for it. Burns tries to act tough when he's only a big mouth, Bones is keen but doesn't have his head screwed on straight, while Cookie is little more than a ditz. Candy, the quietest of the gang, is the only one who shows any initiative, but then again her answer to everything seems to be, “Just shoot it.” Heh. But it explains a lot, because these particular rats were in the circus, and only just left to take on a life of crime. That's basically my biggest itch with the movie -- the plans are Super-Duper Very Important, and Mr D went and hired these fellows to stop Gumshoe, who is the best agent Mousterpol has to offer? In the words of Gumshoe himself, “They're amateurs.”

Then there's Tweed. How I love Tweed. The much-abused (literally, unfortunately) Tweed is Mr D's second-in-command, and is the brains of the outfit. He does have his own independent wicked side, but whenever Mr D's in the immediate area he turns into a snivelling little kitty. I can't blame him, though. I reckon Tweed's the sort of (cat-)person who'd suffer in silence for years under the torture of a mean boss, and one day just snap and run rampant through his office with a machine-gun. {{{huggles Tweed}}}

We're not given much a backstory of the history of the cats and mice, but it seems to me that the war was a long time coming. They'd probably achieved some sort of ‘agreement’ back in the past, but tensions grew as time went by, as the cats drifted more and more into gangsterisms and power plays, while the mice simply wanted to assure their own safety. When both sides caught wind of The Ultimate Weapon, I guess they went beyond the point of no return. And caught in the middle were rats, who were neither here nor there, but play like mercenaries to both sides. (I really should stop analysing so much. It is just a cartoon, after all. >_<)

Cat City doesn't really have the staying power of mainstream animated movies, mostly because it can't quite seem to decide what it is. When you choose to walk the fine line between genres, you don't get a fixed audience. That's the way it goes, unfortunately.

And as an itsy-bitsy little note... I love cats. I have 5 cats, in fact, and love them to bits. Contrary to what some people may expect, I don't mind seeing cats being made the villains. What I do mind, especially in a certain live-action movie released not too long ago, is making cats the idiots. It is true that cats can be nasty little critters, but they are also very smart. If they wanted to rule they world, they'd simply do it. They wouldn't bumble around and mess things up. So, on the whole, I think Cat City's portrayal of cats as wicked, conniving but intelligent villains is pretty cool.


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