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Cats Don't Dance
Cats dont dance poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed by Mark Dindal
Produced by Paul Gertz
David Kirschner
Screenplay by Roberts Gannaway
Cliff Ruby
Elana Lesser
Theresa Pettengill
Story by Rick Schneidet
Mark Dindal
Brian McEntee
Robert Lence
Kelvin Yasuda
David Womersley
Music by Steve Goldstein
Editing by Dan Molina
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) March 26, 1997 (1997-03-26)
Running time 75 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million
Money made $3.6 million

Cats Don't Dance is a 1997 American animated musical comedy film distributed by Warner Bros. under their Warner Bros. Family Entertainment label. It is the only fully animated feature produced by Turner Feature Animation, which was merged during the post-production of Cats Don't Dance into Warner Bros. Animation after the merger of Time Warner with Turner Broadcasting System in 1996. Turner Feature Animation had also produced the animated portions of Turner's The Pagemaster (1994). It is also the only Turner Feature Animation production to be co-produced by Warner Bros. Animation.

The film was the directorial debut of former Disney animator Mark Dindal, and stars the voices of Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, Matthew Herried, Ashley Peldon, John Rhys-Davies, Kathy Najimy, Don Knotts, Hal Holbrook, Betty Lou Gerson, René Auberjonois, George Kennedy, and Dindal. Its musical numbers were written by Randy Newman and includes Gene Kelly's contributions as choreographer, before his death in 1996. The film was Kelly's final film project and is dedicated to his memory.

The film became a box-office failure by grossing around $3 million domestically due to lack of marketing and promotion at the time of its release. Despite it all, the film received generally positive reviews from critics and audiences, with praise directed toward its animation, humor, voice performances, and musical numbers. The film eventually got released on home media and became an underrated cult following by even regarding it as one of the greatest animated films of all time.


In 1939, Danny, an optimistic cat from in Kokomo, Indiana, travels to Hollywood in hopes of starting an acting career there. After meeting a new friend Pudge, Danny is selected by agent Farley Wink to feature in a film that is in production at Mammoth Pictures called Li'l Ark Angel, alongside Wink's secretary: a white cat named Sawyer. Upon joining fellow animals; Tilly, Cranston, Frances, and T.W., Danny is dismayed on learning how minor his role is and tries to weasel his way into more time in the spotlight. Danny angers Darla Dimple, a popular yet spoiled child actress and star of the film, so she assigns her 36-foot tall butler Max to intimidate Danny into no longer trying to enlarge his part.

Danny learns from the studio's mascot Woolie the Mammoth, that human actors are normally given more important roles than animals. He longs for the spotlight and tries to make a plan that will encourage humans to provide animal actors with better scenarios, such as by assembling a massive cluster of animals and putting on a musical performance for the humans.

Later, Danny is given advice by Darla on how to interest and satisfy audiences. He takes this information to heart and groups the animals for an audition on the Ark in hopes of attracting the humans' attention. However, Darla, fearing that the animals will jeopardize her spotlight, has Max help her flood the stage with 100,000 gallons of water while L.B. Mammoth, the head of Mammoth Pictures, and Flanagan, the film's director, are giving an interview, getting the animals blamed and dismissed for the collateral damage. The animals are depressed at being barred from acting in Mammoth Pictures, especially Danny, who was convinced by Darla that she was trying to help the animals. Woolie advises Danny to return to Kokomo. Later that night, everyone is at a diner, upset with Danny for ruining everything for them, while Sawyer sings a song about Danny trying to keep their dreams alive. Tilly overhears Sawyer singing and suggests Sawyer to follow Danny. Sawyer arrives to the bus stop, just seconds after Danny left, finding his hat and to-do list behind.

However, after a comment from the bus driver and seeing Pudge wander the streets, Danny stops the bus and comes up with another plan. He secretly invites Sawyer and the others to the premiere of Lil' Ark Angel. After the screening and a battle with Max that sends him flying away on a Darla Dimple balloon, Danny calls the audience's attention. Upon bringing Sawyer, Woolie, Tilly, Cranston, Pudge, Frances and T.W. backstage to help Danny, the eight animals put on a musical performance that entertains and impresses the viewers. Meanwhile, Darla tries to sabotage the show by tampering with the set and special effects equipment, but her attempts instead cause her to enhance the performance.

Darla furiously yells at the animals for foiling her plan when her voice is amplified over the theater's sound system due to a boom mic she had been tangled up with, revealing the truth about the incident to the audience, including L.B. and Flanagan. Darla tries to hide her true colors by kissing and hugging Danny, but Pudge sends her down a trapdoor. The animals achieve their dreams for larger roles, Danny and Sawyer admit their feelings for each other, and Darla is demoted to a janitor.

Voice cast

  • Scott Bakula as Danny (speaking/singing), an ambitious, optimistically naïve Orange tabby from Kokomo, Indiana, who wishes to become a famous Hollywood star.
  • Jasmine Guy as Sawyer (speaking), a beautiful, but disenchanted sarcastic white cat secretary of Farley Wink and Danny's love interest, later girlfriend.
  • Matthew Herried as Peabo "Pudge" Pudgemyer, a little penguin and Danny's first friend who looks up to him as a big brother.
  • Ashley Peldon as Darla Dimple (speaking), the selfish and spoilt human child star of Hollywood. She conceals her anger and sinister nature from her fans and superiors through a facade of sweetness and innocence, and is willing to prevent the animals from stealing her spotlight. She is referred to as "America's sweetheart, lover of children and animals!" Darla is a parody of Shirley Temple.
    • Lindsay Ridgeway provides Darla Dimple's singing voice.
  • Kathy Najimy as Tilly Hippopotamus (speaking/singing), a happy-go-lucky hippopotamus who tries to find the best in every situation. She is a hilarious hippopotamus as hinted out by her giggling and snorting, and by how quickly she introduces many people (and fellow animals).
  • John Rhys-Davies as Woolie the Mammoth, the aging African elephant who portrays the mascot for Mammoth Pictures. He originally came to Hollywood to write and perform music where he acts as a mentor to Danny upon befriending him. Woolie is an obvious parody of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's mascot Leo the Lion, as he wears mammoth tusks made of marble and a wig, which are placed on him.
  • Betty Lou Gerson as Frances Albacore (speaking/singing), a sassy, rude fish who dances with Cranston Goat and always holds a cigarette holder.
  • Hal Holbrook as Cranston Goat (speaking/singing), a cranky elderly old goat who surprisingly loves to dance. He is always seen with Frances and they always dance with each other, implying they have feelings towards each other.
  • Don Knotts as T.W. Turtle (speaking), a nervous and superstitious turtle who always relies on fortune cookie fortunes. He originally came to Hollywood hoping to be an Errol Flynn-type star.
    • Rick Logan provides T.W.'s singing voice.
  • George Kennedy as L.B. Mammoth, the human head of Mammoth Pictures. His secret of success when asked by anyone is "Simple, it's Dimple!"
  • René Auberjonois as Flanagan, the human film director of "Li'l Ark Angel" who is constantly kissing up to Darla.
  • Mark Dindal as Max, Darla's gargantuan valet who obeys her every command and will not hesitate to punish anyone who crosses her. He serves as the direct force that Darla physically lacks as a child.
  • Frank Welker as Farley Wink, a human agent for animals and Sawyer's boss, who is a blabber-mouth and talks fast. He thinks Sawyer is cute despite the fact that she dislikes him.
  • David Johansen as Bus Driver, a man whose insults towards the animals getting fired from Mammoth Studios inspire Danny with his last plan to give the animals their long-awaited stardom.
  • Dee Bradley Baker as Kong, a gorilla whose only appearance is while Danny and Sawyer are going to the set of Li'l Ark Angel at Mammoth Studios. Baker also does some additional voices such as the Mammoth Pictures guide tour.
  • Tony Pope as Alligator
  • Peter Renaday as Narrator
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