Hiroyuki Morita, 2002 , Japan , 75 min
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer, Elliot Gould, Tim Curry
This captivating Japanese animation focuses on a teenage girl called Huru. She is the school outsider, which is purely due to the fact she is late for class and can't get the attention of the boy she likes. oh the growing pains. One day she saves a cat from being squashed by a truck. After her brave act, she is left on the side of the road and watches in amazement as the cat stands upright and brushes himself off thanking her.
Huru's life then takes a spiralling change as she discovers a whole new feline reality. She receives a royal appraisal from the King himself and is inundated with mice presents and cat followers. She finds it hard to deal with this much "generosity," and just when she would like the whole scenario to have been a dream, the King's apprentice informs her that she is to be the lucky bride of the Prince of Cats. Huru, along with her new found moggy friends and the stone crow, have to help her escape the plans of the very bizarre King of the Cats. Along the way though, Huru gets caught up in the enchantment of this life of luxury, a world where she is popular and beautiful. The question is: "Will she give in?" and if she does the next question should be: "Whiskers or Felix?"
The one character that stands out is the King, played by Tim Curry. He is the laziest cat in the world, he gets carted around everywhere and he's so fat! He has different coloured eyes that are completely independent of each other and he tends to talk a little like Austin Powers. Even though he looks and is a very unsettling character, none of his subjects dare to cross him as he has a very short fuse.
Fantastical events will rekindle your childlike imagination, a pathway of crows from the sky, a lantern lit night march of the King and his swaying entourage of cat subjects. Even the extras have so much detail to them: for instance bodyguard cats with markings on them to look like they were wearing suits.
There are funny parts, though it's not certain whether we are supposed to laughing at the fat cat drowning in a jug of catnip jello, or the fat cat falling straight onto concrete face first. In fact the fat cat is the funniest part of the film, he's so sarcastic, lazy and unhelpful, and his sheer "I can't be bothered" attitude is great.
The project was brought in by Hayao Miyazaki who gave us that amazing Japanese feature Spirited Away . She now brings you The Cat Returns where you will be taken on a journey to the magical and amusing Kingdom of the cats.
A treat for adults with a dark sense of humour, and of course for the kids with the underlying must-have message: believe in yourself.