A Talking Cat!?! (2013) is a special sort of bad movie, and, as such, gets a deluxe-sized review (and it gets pretty ugly pretty quickly, and I use some bad language. I know. I know…this movie breaks me.) But know this, from me, “El Sacerdote”, this movie is worth watching…preferably while drunk…for its bizarre mixture of insane production decisions, “we-don’t-give-a-fuck” attitude of not even trying, and some of the most bizarre acting, and casting decisions you could possibly see any time soon.
This film (which, along with many of its “A [BLANK] [ANIMAL]!?!” movie brethren, is regularly available on Netflix) poses as a children’s film with amateurish production values, rank acting, a FUCKING annoying soundtrack that is just public domain nursery rhyme instrumentals, and is directed by Mary Crawford (pseudonym for David DeCocteau, director of the soft-core ambiguously gay erotic films of the 1313 Series—the set on which this CHILDREN’S FILM is also shot). This film is presumably funded from whatever was leftover from the 1313 films in order to justify their costs to investors; rushed into filming over the course of an hour with the most threadbare of plots; and starred whatever stray animal hooved onto the location. And it’s drunken, psychedelic, comedic gold.
What’s the plot, you may be asking your computer screen? (How DARE you ask.) Set somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, this film centers on the titular talking cat(?!) Duffy, voiced by Eric Roberts(?!). Yes! Eric Roberts, he of The Expendables, The Dark Knight, and the classic Pope Of Greenwich Village fame. He voices a cat. Duffy is a talking cat (he only speaks about six times, once to each of the main characters. Why? Because he can only talk to each of them once. Why? Stop asking so many questions! The filmmakers didn’t ask such questions, why do YOU do it?!) Why does he talk? Because…he’s trying to help two random, unrelated families going through slightly inconvenient points in their respective lives? Despite not speaking for most of the film, we do hear Duffy’s thoughts on the modern world (including us human’s fascination with our “blinking machines”), and this aspect is worth the price of wasting 90 minutes.
The worst narration is often a lazy way for directors to convey exposition and theme (or story points) without actually having to do any work. With this film, the narration is crucially, unintentionally hilarious. It is embarrassingly obvious that Eric Roberts is completely, slurringly piss drunk throughout the entirety of recording his lines (hell, if that’s the criteria, give ME the part! I’m ready!) Since every line is slurringly plastered, it goes to follow that he recorded everything in one shot — in one take, without stopping — at which point he was presumably given back his children and allowed out of the locked basement. The director and sound designer then listened to Eric Roberts drunkenly slur each and every line in the same monotonous, disinterested drone…in some instances incomprehensibly so…turned to each other, and then said, “Perfect. Got it in one.”
The other actors are a different delight. Kristine DeBell (Meatballs, Samurai Cop 2) stars as Susan, who lives in a cabin with her son Trent (Daniel Dannas) and Tina (Janis Peebles). DeBell enjoyed a brief popularity back in the early Eighties from her role in Meatballs. But, long story short, she tried her hand at a bit more experimental, adult-musical-comedy type of roles…and, well, here she is. Talking to a cat. Pretending to be a caterer who specializes in “cheese puffs” (which are clearly store-bought), and struggling to not show the fear that she suddenly woke up to a film crew yelling directions at her and throwing first-draft lines at her. She and her costar, former child star Johnny Whitaker as Phil Barber, meet while Phil is out for a hike the first day of his retirement (and wearing a shirt that reads “Un pinche dia a la vez”…in this CHILDREN’S movie) and wanders into Susan’s yard by accident.
Phil is a former programmer (for a company called either GlobeTech, or GlobelTech, depending on which part of the same shot you’re reading), and growing not only bored of retirement, but disconnected from his son (Chris, as played by Justin Cone), who is so obviously gay (in the literal sense. Not in the Internet sense of the word. He is LITERALLY gay. Attracted to men gay…although whether that is the actor, or the character is entirely left up in the air), that his attempts to woo and flirt with his classmate (Alison Sieke as Frannie) while “tutoring” her in his swimming pool comes across as both sad and, oddly, insulting (who are you trying to fool, movie?). In fact, he should have played Trent, and Daniel Dannas played Chris, as that actor was less ambiguously distracting. Anyway…
So then this stupid drunk fucking cat appears, and it wanders from one dumb member of one family to the other dumb member of the other dumb family, each of them taking it in and caring for it and not questioning where it came from or who its owners are (it has a collar, so SOMEONE owns this cat), and some dumb shit happens, and he talks to the dummies and no one thinks “Whoa! This fucking cat just talked to me! Holy shit! I should record this or call someone or ask pertinent questions!”, but just talks to it like it’s the most normal dumb fuck thing, and then the dumb cat gets hit by a shitty car that just shows up out of fucking nowhere on this dumb mountain road (there is ONE quick line about how the road is dangerous early on, and then it is never, ever mentioned again until this dumb scene).
And then the families come together to save the cat (by finding his magic collar! Oh, I didn’t mention his collar was magic? Well, neither did this FUCKING MOVIE!), and maybe they grow close together and learn to respect one another or some dumb shit? And then the most unintentionally hilarious sequence occurs. So, Duffy is hit by a car, and near death (we know this because the characters say it aloud). And all the human characters have gathered to talk about Duffy, and how he helped them all (except for Frannie, who just reappeared in the movie and has no idea why everyone thinks this cat talks), and they’re all sad and worried and junk, and Susan and Tina are crying and no one wants him to die, and the music gets slow and melancholic because it’s a really sad, serious scene…
…and then we smash cut to…
That, right here, is the movie in a capsule. The planning of this scene probably went thus:
Director: “How do we show that this cat was just hit by a car, like, an hour ago? And it might die? This is a crucial, emotional scene!”
Production designer: “Eh, just throw some gauze on the damn thing. No, don’t waste time taping it or securing it. Just put some treats to keep the cat in place…I don’t care if the treats are in the shot. Fuck it.” No one cared enough to really try, or to even give the illusion of having tried, at any point in this film. Especially Eric Roberts.
There is so little conflict, the cat could have never been introduced and everything would’ve probably played out exactly the same way. Tina wants to sell her wardrobe pairing app, but, as Susan puts it, she’s “too smart for business school” (actual line). Chris wants Frannie to like him (for some reason) and to reconnect with his dad, yet every time Phil talks to him, he whines and complains. And Susan wants her kids to get along so that she can have them help her with her catering business. The thing is, Phil and Susan meet completely independently of Duffy appearing to either of them, and long before he becomes important at all to anyone. So…what’s the point? To watch a movie where there’s no attempt to convincingly portray nighttime other than tint everything neon blue (and not even shade the windows?) To watch characters switch plot points almost as often as Tommy Wiseau? To have a four minute driving scene where we hear people talking (about nothing) but never see any of them on-screen, just a car?) To watch an uncooperative and annoyed cat get coaxed into staying in one place with treats and a laser pointer, all of which are clearly left in the frame? To watch Kristine DeBell pretend to spend the whole day cooking, but there’s no ingredients, bowls, or utensils anywhere in her kitchen? To watch Frannie wear that ANNOYING NECKLACE?
Here’s a fun game! Every time the director decides to cut to an establishing shot of any one of the film’s only two locations in order to pad the film out to market it as “feature length”, take a shot of bourbon! (SPOILER: Fifty-nine. You will take fifty-nine shots. Often in succession. We counted, and then put it on IMDB. Do NOT play this game.) We will return to the world of Mary Crawford’s talking animals, and explore a few more of his tropes next week, but for now…
How the hell did this thing cost $1,000,000 to make?!
No bibles/5 bibles