Felix the Cat, the character, came to be in 1919, although his bag of tricks wasn’t a thing until the 1950s. Felix was created by the Australian animation studio run by Pat Sullivan. It’s also possible Felix was actually created by Otto Mesmer, Sullivan’s lead animator.
The 1988 movie was widely criticized for, well… being poorly-drawn nonsense. And boy is it ever!
Come with us, on a journey through Felix the Cat: The Movie.
Felix starts off the production by introducing it as a terrifying CGI head. He’s here to tell us that he just came back from the Kingdom of Oriana. Also, that he doesn’t know if he can even get back there because there’s no airport. Ahahaha… MENACING.
The Kingdom of Oriana is some sort of cloudy labyrinth. The Princess is signing a document in… golden magic? Minister Grumpert (?) waddles in, angry at some sort of tax increase or decrease. He can’t get all his curmudgeonly complaints out before another person bursts through the door.
It’s a cat lady! Or a tarot card reader. While she comes in babbling about some sort of imminent danger, cards fly out of her all over the place. Grumpert calls her a lunatic, but Oriana is a benevolent leader and lets her speak. From Madam Pearl she gets a warning that the kingdom is being attacked by her Uncle, the evil Duke of Zill. It is not so much a warning, as an alarm, as they are already there.
The army comes crashing into the kingdom. It appears to be a troop of lamps and overhead lights storming through all the corridors. It’s unclear if they are straight up looking for the princess.
The trio leave for the dimensporter to fulfill some sort of prophecy where they will be saved at the hands of a dark stranger. While running through the dungeons/caverns, which appear to be modeled after a zany roller coaster ride, they find the dimensporter, which appears to be modeled after a zany carnival game. She can’t remember her password (me neither, honey) and they are all caught by the rapidly approaching lamp army.
But wait! The Princess CRIES. Her tear jumps into the machine they were trying to get to, travels through dimensions, and eventually ends up near our favorite feline. It traveled through the Dimensporter, which is, in spite of its lazy combination of dimension and transporter into a terrible name, really smart. It just took that tear and sent it straight to presumably the only cool cat capable of helping. Also, the tear remembered the password.
Felix is napping, as cats do. The tear finds him! It bothers him awake and then to follow. It is crying, “help me!” How awful and weird. Should he follow? Should he be concerned or should he wash himself off, because that gross thing touched him? He’s a cat, so he obviously follows the shiny light wherever it leads.
Here starts the good shit, since we finally have Felix in the picture. He does some wacky physical comedy hijinks while following the tear, as well as using his bag of tricks for… well all he does is reinflate it after a truck runs it over. Not very magic, but we’ll get there.
Oh hooray, more characters. Apparently Felix already has enemies in his very own dimension, The Professor and his nephew Poindexter, who are after his magic bag of tricks. White privilege, amirite?
Here is where I apologize for the disjointed storytelling. Suddenly, there is a musical interlude, featuring some foxes peeing on Felix’s bag while he hides under it. They disappear after, never to be seen again. Good scene.
The tear goes down a well and Felix finally takes advantage of his magic bag to go down safely. He fits himself with adorable skydiving gear and plummets down, only to have the parachute open at the bottom, for him to fall into. Classic Felix. They wander through the well which is actually a gold mine, filled with gold. The tear leads Felix to a section that suddenly closes around them and he’s off! Dimensporter time.
Felix and the tear arrive in the kingdom of Oriana, where Felix is told by a computer that the Princess needs his help. The tear then turns into the princess, says that it can’t lead him any longer, and disappears. Felix turns his bag of tricks into a jackhammer to try to follow through the wall. Instead, after ending up in the back of a dump truck that is there for no reason, he drills through the wrong wall and water rushes through. Classic Felix.
What follows is some more nonsense. Some breasted fish flirt with some other fish. They sloppily swing their breasts in circles like amateur burlesque dancers. Felix puts on some scuba gear and then all the fish help him, presumably because he looks like them. All they actually do is help him stand up. Felix then leaves through a convenient door and swims away.
When Felix shoots out the bottom of a tree trunk (what???) he encounters Pim, a supposedly friendly cowboy guy who welcomes him to the land of Zill. However, Pim immediately whispers, to either us or the brisk swampy air, that he is after Felix’s bag. They have a boring-ass journey. Pim goes on and on about some plants nobody cares about and which probably don’t factor into the movie at any other point. Felix seems to be in love with the Princess, after only having encountered her tear.
When crossing what might be a river, Pim tells Felix, “just throw me your bag!” Felix throws himself with the bag, ends up inside one of those weird plants things, and Pim reels him in, surrounded by the Duke of Zill’s evil robots.
Back in whatever dimension Felix is from, The Professor and Poindexter are looking for Felix in the goldmine. Poindexter immediately figures out that Felix has crossed dimensions by reversing the name of the goldmine, Anairo, to Oriana. Real tricky, parallel dimension.
Back to Zill again! Here we meet Wack Lizardi, the best character and yet another villain. He is some sort of lizard-dragon thing, who holds a mini-me on a stick, which is also an alive lizard-dragon thing. The little one doesn’t talk, but seems to bite at anything it gets near, including Wack himself. Pim, riding one of those robots (which looks totally fun) tries to sell the bag of tricks to Wack. Wack wants Felix.
The Professor and Poindexter have made it to the swamp outside Zill. When a lizard-dragon (non-talking) tries to eat them, Poindexter uses a shrink ray on the guy, and even throws him a little raft. What a compassionate villain! They wave goodbye to each other, although when they crash their boat-thing into land, that lizard-dragon does a gloaty little dance on his raft.
Wack tells Felix he will now be an attraction at his circus thing. We see the circus as it starts, with an elaborate introduction of their ruler, the Duke of Zill, followed by a song about how great he is and how happy everyone is, because he tells them to be. While the audience sings, a band of cats plays the music. The Cat Band.
The first act is a pair of tap-dancing mizzards, or mice-lizards. The audience boos so much. One of the mizzards falls and they start to cheer. The audience continues to make jumbled noises of neither satisfaction or dissatisfaction until it ends. It’s pretty unclear.
It’s Felix’s turn. He is introduced by Wack, the talking lizard-dragon, as the only talking cat around. Felix does a stand-up routine that totally kills. People go FUCKING NUTS. Felix is then handed his bag of tricks. He unleashes a bunch of silly nonsense like skateboarding or shooting himself out of a cannon. When he’s done, he strikes a deal with Wack, in spite of having no power in the situation. He promises not to tell any more jokes if he can see the Princess dance, which I guess is what she does now instead of ruling.
She dances in a bubble and she appears to have learned how to dance by watching sped-up yoga videos. Not only is Felix watching, but so is the imprisoned Madam Pearl, along with Zill and his new righthand man, none other than Grumpert! (Remember? From the beginning?)
In the next few minutes we learn a few things that we probably should have already known. The first is that the reason Zill is mad is because Oriana’s father did something-or-other to him. The other is that the Kingdom of Oriana is across that weird swamp from the Kingdom of Zill. Pim basically tells Felix that no one has ever escaped because there’s nowhere to go, except across that swamp!
As Oriana is taken back to her cell, she passes Felix, who seems to be freely wandering around. He tells her he will save them both, which she thinks is a cruel joke! Then Cowboy Pim makes fun of him. Felix is then taken away by the cylinder robots too.
The mizzards sneak around Felix’s cell trying to eat. Felix wakes up and promises the mizzards that he will not try to eat them. Then he asks for their help. They show Felix their system of mizzard-shaped holes to travel around between cells. They turn the holes into a Felix-shaped hole, by eating the wall. Felix travels through quite a few cells, pausing in each to make a barely-relevant pun.
Felix finds Princess Oriana and he tells her he is there to save her, again. She realizes that her dimensporter worked, and then laughs that Felix is what came through to help. Ouch. Then she tells him the history of the kingdom and why Zill is an insane evil ruler. Basically he blew himself up, got mad about his disfigurement and was subsequently banished across that swamp. He made all the dumb swamp animals build a cylinder robot army so that he could take over Oriana someday.
When the princess kisses Felix on the head and calls him a dear friend, the song in the background has the lyrics “more than friends.” I think poor Felix is a little confused, but he and the mizzards depart her cell.
The Professor and Poindexter arrive at the circus, where the payment is whatever you can find in your pocket. Dressed in their lizard-dragon costumes, they pay the price of two wrenches and go in. Felix starts his pun-filled act right away, turning his bag into all sorts of silly things. The audience loves his act so much that Wack allows him to perform along with the princess.
Felix alerts the cat band that he has a plan, cause felines gotta stick together. He starts to play bag-saxophone and the saxophone bubbles take him away. Then he tosses the good ol’ bag of tricks onto the princess, so that she is enclosed in a bag-bubble, which I guess is safer? They float to relative safety so that they can start their real getaway. Also, Pim comes with them, because I guess he switched sides.
Felix doesn’t have his bag because he’s completely fucking useless. The princess says that it’s okay, because they have each other. Pim is also still there.
While they ride their mechanical horses to Oriana, they ride right up next to The Professor and Poindexter. The Professor has the bag, which Felix calls over with a whistle. The five of them ride on together to the crystal clear waters of Oriana. They send the mechanical horses back, a la John Wayne and find themselves in a hair forest.
Princess Oriana pulls some Mary Sue shit and suddenly decides it’s too dangerous a journey to expect her new friends to complete. They’re all on board anyway though. It’s not like they can just go back, Princess.
The group is almost immediately attacked by some “headhunters.” It’s really not important, you guys. They look mean and have weapons but all they do is steal Pim’s hat and fly around screaming. Felix sends them a bunch of hats from his bags and they’re pretty happy. Hats are great.
They finally reach the castle, which is infested with cylinder robots. They see Grumpert watching the robots doing a synchronized dance before introducing the Duke of Zill. Felix turns his bag into a rope and tries to lasso the duke. A robot grabs his bag right away and he is empty-handed. Classic Felix.
They are all captured! Zill wants that book of secrets that only Princess Oriana can get access to. After a second or two of protests, she does it. Guess what: the secrets are truth, love, and wisdom. Zill got punk’d. He’s so angry he unleashes his weapon of mass destruction: Master Cylinder. After less than one minute of the robot threatening them, Felix tosses the book of bullshit secrets at it and it totally breaks. The whole army disappears, along with Zill. What.
The Kingdom of Oriana is back to its former glory. Fireworks, waterfalls, and beautifully colored buildings dot the kingdom. After a not very tearful goodbye, the dimensporter almost doesn’t work because The Professor is trying to bring gold through. Really, it’s all just a construction so that Princess Oriana’s last words are about Felix’s heart of gold.
This is ironic because the entire story has turned my heart into a cold dead stone.