Felix the Cat: The Movie is a 1988 animated fantasy film based on the cartoon and comic strip character of the same name. It was made in Europe during 1986 and 1987, but was not officially released in the United States until 1991.
In the Kingdom of Oriana, the beautiful Princess Oriana, ruler of the kingdom, has been informed by a local fortune teller named Pearl that the Duke of Zill is invading the kingdom. Oriana and Pearl go down into the cavern underneath the castle and attempt to use an ancient device called the "Dimensporter" in order to escape to another dimension and find a hero to save the kingdom. Just before they manage to enter the device though, Oriana and Pearl are caught by the Duke's robotic army and are imprisoned, while the Duke completely takes over the kingdom of Oriana. Just as the princess is being taken away from the Dimensporter by the Duke's Cylinders robots, she sheds a magical tear, which flies into the device in her place and is transported to Felix's dimension. Felix the Cat is taking a nap underneath a palm tree when the tear finds him. The tear wakes him up and guides him to an abandoned gold mine, where the Dimensporter is located. Felix and his magical bag of tricks are soon transported to the Kingdom of Oriana. Meanwhile, Felix's arch-nemesis The Professor and his nephew Poindexter, who had been watching from afar, follow Felix to Oriana in the hopes of catching Felix and stealing his magic bag. Once in Oriana, the tear tells Felix that it cannot guide him any further, and soon disappears. On his own, Felix gets lost and subsequently ends up in a swamp. He meets Pim, a local of the area, who offers to guide him to civilization. Pim later betrays Felix and takes him to Wack Lizardi, the owner of a local circus and a lackey of the Duke of Zill. Pim suggests to Wack that Felix could be a new attraction, so Wack confiscates Felix's bag and puts him to work as a performer, locking Felix in a cell before and after every show. Eventually, Felix manages to sneak out of his cell and meets with the princess, who was also being kept at the circus in an adjacent cell. Oriana soon realizes that Felix was the hero that she was originally looking for. She tells Felix about how her kingdom was overtaken by a Duke of Zill, whom she reveals is actually her uncle. In the past the Duke was a scientist who disagreed with the pacifistic views the kingdom held. After a laboratory accident left him disfigured, he rebuilt his body into the mechanical shell he is seen donning in the rest of the movie. He later attempted to seize the royal secrets of their ancestors' high technology, and as punishment was banished to the Land of Zill. Soon he began plotting his revenge, meanwhile gaining the trust and adoration of the strange creatures of Zill. He amassed a workforce to build his army of robots, and stormed Oriana by force as was seen at the beginning of the film. Not content with simply ruling Oriana though, he continued his efforts to find the royal secrets contained in the "Book of Ultimate Power", which Oriana has refused to reveal the location of to him so far but fears time may be running out. Felix consolingly promises to the princess that they'll escape together, and later manages to do so using his magic bag to fly away in the middle of a stage performance. Felix, Princess Oriana, and a reformed Pim set off toward the kingdom of Oriana, eventually joined by the Professor and Poindexter as well after they fail to steal Felix's bag. After braving the formidable landscapes and creatures, they arrive at Oriana and confront the Duke and Grumper who betrayed the princess. The Duke's robotic army quickly manages to subdue the heroes despite their efforts, and the Duke threatens to kill Felix and his friends if the princess does not reveal where the Book of Ultimate Power is kept. Having no other choice, Oriana shows its location and the Duke takes possession of it. However, the Duke is shocked to discover that the contents of the book are nothing more than the words "Truth", "Love", and "Wisdom." The infuriated Duke commands the central "brain and heart" of his robotic army, the Master Cylinder, to destroy Felix and his friends. Thinking quickly, Felix takes hold of the book and throws it at the machine, which mysteriously causes it to short circuit and break down. It turns out that the other robots had been drawing their power from the Master Cylinder, and thus all of them fail and shut down as well. With his army defeated, the Duke quickly flees, swearing that he will return one day. The kingdom of Oriana is saved, and Felix, The Professor, and Poindexter walk into the Dimensporter to take them home.
- Chris Phillips - The Professor / Grumper
- Maureen O'Connell - Princess Oriana
- Peter Newman - The Duke of Zill / Wack Lizardi / Pim
- Alice Playten - Pearl / Poindexter
- Additional voices
Felix the Cat: The Movie began development in the late 1980s, when Don Oriolo (the son of Joe Oriolo) began work on a feature-length television special intended as a pilot.[[|]] After Oriolo took the project to Europe, it ended up with director Tibor Hernádi and his Hungarian crew, at a cost of US$9 million.[[|]]
The film opens with an introduction by Felix, who is rendered in CGI using then-new motion capture technology; this model also appears throughout the end credits. The rest of the film, however, is rendered in hand-drawn animation.[[|]] The animation was produced at Pannonia Film Studio in Hungary, with some parts subcontracted to studios in Poland and Bulgaria.
Release and reception
New World Pictures picked up the film in May 1987, some time after completion, and planned to release it in the U.S. market on Thanksgiving season; these plans fell through.[[|]] The film premiered at the Wadsworth Theatre in Los Angeles in January of 1989 as the opening selection of the third Los Angeles Animation Celebration.[[|]]
Felix the Cat: The Movie was originally slated for a Thanksgiving 1990 release, but was pushed to April 3, 1991.[[|]] The film cost $9 million to make, and became a box office bomb, grossing $1,964,253.
The film was released on VHS on August 23, 1991[[|]][[|]] by Buena Vista Home Video. The film was also a staple of Disney Channel's programming roster during the 1990s. As of 2011, its only legitimate DVD releases have occurred in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany, Serbia, and the United States by DreamWorks Animation SKG Home Entertainment.
The staff of Halliwell's Film Guide called it a "Laboured attempt to update the classic cartoon figure."[[|]] Philip Strick of MFB commented that it was "more likely to bury the ingratiating Felix beyond revival than to stimulate fresh legions of fans".[[|]] In his 2005 book Television Cartoon Shows, Hal Erickson noted that it "managed to salvage whatever marginal charm the 1960 series has had by dressing it up with first class animation and character design."[[|]]
The film features the theme song from the Felix the Cat TV series, on which the film is based. The score was composed by Christopher L. Stone, with songs by Bernd Schonhoffen, Don Oriolo and Christian Schneider.
The other songs throughout the film are:
- "Sly as a Fox"
- "Together Again"
- "All You Need is Friends"
- "Who is the Boss?"
- "Mizzard Shuffle"
- "Face to the Wind (The Princess Song)"
- "Something More Than Friends"
- End Credits (Instrumental)
All music published by Felix the Cat Creations Music, Inc. Original "Felix the Cat" theme song by Winston Sharples, published by Famous Music.