4 Reasons Questlove Makes Aristocats 1 Of Disney’s Most Exciting Movies 



Disney announced Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson would direct a live-action Aristocats remake, marking this remake of the animated film as one of the most exciting movies on Disney’s roster. While Disney has released many live-action versions of their classic animated films, what makes this announcement so intriguing is the combination of a well-known musician helming a well-known children’s musical. The anticipation isn’t due to a cast announcement or teaser but the potential for this union of a passionate, budding filmmaker who understands the intricacies of his movie’s subject. Questlove may have only directed one music documentary, but his adoration and contributions across genres bring forth a few reasons why the Aristocats is a compelling reinvention.

The original Aristocats premiered in 1970 and was well-regarded for depicting scraggly beatnik cats inhabiting a secret bohemian world. The soundtrack was so famous for fusing different music genres that Disney released the movie twice more in theaters. Disney’s more recent animated films have enjoyed a continued legacy with sequels and live-action remakes, but the Aristocats has been left alone and is now viewed as a product of its time. Unlike other Disney remakes closely following the source material, Questlove’s involvement in the Aristocats could take the story in a fresh, exciting, and welcoming direction.

Related: How Each Disney Remake Compares to the Original on Rotten Tomatoes

Summer Of Soul Proves How Questlove Can Influence Aristocats For The Better

Summer of Soul Trailer Gives First Look at Questlove’s Directorial Debut

Questlove’s first film, Summer of Soul, was widely praised for spotlighting a vibrant culture of primarily Black musicians in the late sixties. The documentary’s live music and a cast of real characters encased an energy that pulled the audience into the screen and made them feel like they were also at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Questlove’s portrayal of infectious joy is the precise celebratory atmosphere that the Aristocats remake needs. For a movie about music-loving and free-spirited cats, Questlove’s first documentary can influence his first narrative by utilizing his ability to present a lively party.

Questlove’s ability to encapsulate a party can especially be helpful for the Aristocats’ signature musical number, “Everybody Wants to be a Cat.” This original movie highlight displays cats of every color playing instruments and thriving off each other’s energy until they join in for a rambunctious chorus. As seen in Summer of Soul, Questlove understands the importance of letting a performance let loose and letting the raw energy of a performance sweep the viewer. Summer of Soul represented the vitality of music in 1969, and Questlove could draw inspiration for his Aristocats remake since the original was made during the period too.

Questlove’s Music & Comedy Connections Could Result In A Great Aristocats Supporting Cast

Shun Gon the Chinese Cat - The AristoCats

As musical director of the Tonight Show and co-founder of its house band, the Roots, Questlove has been able to collaborate and perform with some of the most renowned musicians and comedians of today. The viral success of recurring Tonight Show segments like “Classroom Instruments” and acapella versions of classic theme songs is largely due to the combination of music and humor provided by the Roots. Since Questlove’s particular talent circles revolve around hip-hop and comedy, both are excellent sources for a mix of voice talent and actors in an Aristocats remake.

One can imagine the talents of John Legend, Erykah Badu, and Lin-Manuel Miranda offering their signature music styles to songs like “Thomas O’Malley Cat” or “Scales and Arpeggios.” Likewise, Questlove’s friends like Maya Rudolph, Kenan Thompson, Zooey Deschanel, and Hannibal Burris can create fresh, colorful side characters as the new rowdy Scat Cat Gang. Because of Questlove’s broad range of collaborations and different projects, he has gathered connections suited well to make an audience howl in laughter and dance in delight. Disney remakes may primarily use up-and-coming actors as leads, but Questlove can use his past production connections to craft an excellent support cast.

Aristocats’ Classical & Jazz Focus Is Perfect For Questlove


While Questlove became recognized for his hip-hop music in the Roots, his passion and versatility for playing all genres make the Aristocats an especially anticipated musical. The initial Disney movie focused on a family of cats who strictly played classical music but was then enamored and liberated by jazz. The music serves as a significant motif in symbolizing a change in spirit and perspective for the cats as they embrace a less sheltered life. Like the original film’s thematic journey, Questlove understands the transitional powers of music and can wield his own musical craft to deepen that story.

Since the remake was announced as a musical live-action, Questlove has already shared his adoration and skill of playing various music styles on the Tonight Show, honored 1960s funk and soul in the Summer of Soul, and has spoken openly about his love of jazz. His vast production skills have led him to produce albums ranging from Jay-Z to Elvis Costello. He knows how to blend the classical into something fresh and current while honoring an artist or song’s legacy. If the initial Aristocats delved into the world of classical and jazz music, the union of these two contrasting music styles is perfect for Questlove’s sensibilities. For the first time in Disney’s remake history, they have a movie about music with a musician as its director.

Aristocats Doesn’t Have A Big Legacy Like Other Disney Movies

The Aristocats

One of the Aristocats remake’s greatest potential strengths is the initial movie’s greatest weakness: it’s not universally praised like other Disney movies. Many can’t remember the plot line of Aristocats, nor many songs like they can with Lion King, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and more classics. Furthermore, the original encased some unfortunate stereotypes that have tarnished a desire for repeated viewing. Due to these shortcomings, Questlove and the production team have more of a free license to take the story where they please and make their own modern classic.

Disney remakes are often criticized for being expensive and unnecessary replicates of classic tales, but Questlove has the chance to take a lesser-known Disney tale and make it his own. He can continue celebrating artists of color and infuse his love for music into a reinvention of the story. He can share his passion for the bohemian lifestyle through the eyes of cats and still be a joyous personal expression. Questlove has garnered his own legacy for his talents across a broad spectrum of music, television, theater, and film, and the promised direction for his first narrative film makes the Aristocats remake an exciting prospect.


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