Monday, December 8, 2014

A Talking Cat!?! (2013)

It's time, dear readers, to take a break from our usual intake of gruesome horror tales, and instead look at something different. Something involving talking felines, and no dignity or common sense.

Director: David DeCoteau (as Mary Crawford)
Starring: Johnny Whitaker, Janis Peebles, Eric Roberts

...yeah, I guess that's as good of an intro as I'm going to get. Boy, am I out of steam! It's almost like I'm doing these reviews and consciously mentioning how out of steam I am just to cover up how out of steam I am! And plus I'm reviewing a movie about a fucking talking cat. Which is, frankly, as low as you can go.

Apparently director David DeCoteau is something of a brainchild as he has done many other movies exactly like this. Some titles include A Talking Pony!?! and My Stepbrother is a Vampire!?! because it's apparently impossible to have a good title if you don't include !?! at the end of it. Am I right!?! No. No I'm not. I'm really just ashamed I just did that.

But really the most interesting part of this whole affair is this:

What? Seriously, what?

Oh well. This is mere chump change compared to the movie we're about to see. Are you ready? No? Well, nobody is ever going to be - not for this. We'll just have to get used to it.

The movie begins with our hero, Duffy, a talking cat whose mission is to help people. We get a voice-over in his head about, I dunno, walking around and shitting in peoples' yards or something. The voice-over by Eric Roberts of The Dark Knight and Heroes fame sounds like your drunk stepfather in a bar at 2 p.m.

He isn't the hero we want, but he's the hero we deserve. Also that looks nothing like the cat on the cover, goddamn you! Was it so hard to take a picture of the actual cat in your fucking movie?

He decides to help two separate families in “trouble.” By that I mean one of them has a dad played by a mordibly obese Bill Murray who likes to do soul-crushing things like sit down in the random car-shaped seat they have for some Godforsaken reason in their living room, and go “Vroom! Vroom!” like he's a 10 year old. The son, who is sitting on the couch reading what I am positive is a book of blank pages just intended to make him look smart, sighs exasperatedly and goes “Dad, why do you keep doing that?”

Did they steal that chair from a mall kids' play area display?

The story is told by the dad, Phil, who explains very calmly and actually kind of happily that he lost his job and will now just laze around the house all day. The son doesn't give a shit at all, and I guess that kind of dead-eyed apathy runs in the family – must be a dominant gene. Phil's apparent plan is just to hang around and eat pizza and stuff. I'm so glad he's a positive role model.

The son, Chris, by the way, is a total wimp who gets this really hot girl to come over and “study” with him, which for her means swimming in his pool while he reads her books for her. Kid, I'd tell you to skip this chick and wait for someone better, but to be honest, your totally wimpy reaction to this in which you run away from her like a pussy tells me you don't have it in you. I mean, come on – even the fucking cat is thinking he's terrible. Really; we get a voice over with the cat thinking how lame Chris is. That's pretty bad.

"How am I using a phone when I'm too stupid to even know how to operate one?"

The other family is a “poorer” family, which means they don't have a house that a hipster art college student would design while he was drunk. The daughter is trying to apply for business school, but the mom says they don't have money for that, and actively antagonizes the daughter for...trying to better herself as a human being and having ambition. Meanwhile, her lazy slacker son who just spends all day in his room and acts like a wooden plank, she loves and adores. mommy has some issues which will likely be projected onto her weak-willed son. Sound familiar?


So if you can actually believe it, the cat can talk to these people only once and tell them something they need to do or know to make their lives better. I'd say this is ridiculous and implausible, but frankly the audience for the movie – whoever the fuck they are – is already close enough to believing shit like this is possible. Whether through extremist hippie new-age belief or being dropped on their heads, the audience for A Talking Cat!?! will probably accept this plot without complaint.

Above: the look of all the legitimate movie studios when confronted with the plot for A Talking Cat!?!

I also love the animation for when his mouth moves, and by animation I of course mean they just photoshopped a black hole over the cat's mouth and had it move vaguely in tandem with the dialogue. Didn't I see this kind of stuff in 2002-era Internet animation cartoons? Why am I watching it in a 2014 movie?

Even old games had better graphics.

So I guess the cat gives them some really vague, weird advice – he tells Phil to “go take a walk in the woods.” Which honestly sounds kinda creepy, doesn't it? Is this cat some kind of mafia hitman enforcer? I dunno. Unless there's Ryan Gosling and a place beyond the pines involved here, taking a walk in the woods with anyone in this movie sounds like a terrible idea to me.

The only acceptable outcome of this movie for me.

He also tells the girl, Tina, to look at her computer, which has Phil's website on it. I guess Phil's job, which he lost recently, was something involving computer programming. Because this guy really looks and acts like a guy who knows anything about computers, right?

I guess the whole point of all this is when Phil takes his walk in the woods and meets up with Susan, the mom from the other family. They have a conversation about Humphrey Bogart movies, which I'm guessing is because the director didn't have the money to buy the rights to talk about anything else. I love Humphrey Bogart and all, but this whole sequence is hilarious to me. Yes, truly that is the barometer of quality here – Humphrey Bogart movies on one end and A Talking Cat!?! on the other.

Above: The face of the Humphrey Bogart fan club, circa 2013.

There's also a plot point, if you can call it that, about Susan being this caterer for business parties or something, and she's constantly trying to make cheese puffs to take with her. They talk about this a lot, to the point where my friends and I started to wonder if someone just lost a bet and had to shoehorn in the phrase “cheese puffs” in their script as many times as possible. I mean Jesus Christ, what is the big fucking deal with the cheese puffs? Are they really that good? Will they make you orgasm if you eat just one? Will they make you see beyond our puny reality and soar to the cosmos inside your mind while rainbows shoot out of your ass? I mean, you're setting the standards pre-etty fuckin' high here.

Apparently Susan wants Tina to make more cheese puffs instead of doing work to try and get into computer school. She really acts like a bitch to Tina for wanting to do stuff to try and get into a computer school instead of making cheese puffs – yeah, furthering your education and improving life prospects is lame. She should just be a docile house wife!

All women should be forced to stay in kitchens and make food all day with no other career prospects - A Talking Cat!?! says so, so it must be true.

Phil leaves and Tina goes with him to his house to make the cheese puffs while also talking about computers! They mash their fingers on the keyboards while smiling like a Hallmark commercial, so I guess that counts as the plot moving forward:

"Alright! You found my favorite animal porn website!"

The other son comes up and finds Chris trying to swim in the pool – because he apparently doesn't know how to swim when they clearly have a pool right there and the ocean is just a few miles away, too. I mean, I don't know; maybe there's some rational explanation. But given the movie's titanic levels of stupidity I'm guessing it's because Phil shrugged his shoulders, got that doofy look on his face and went “aw shucks, I ain't good at anything except computer science and embarrassing my entire family in public. You just won't be able to swim I guess!”

There's actual dialogue in this scene where Chris complains about being afraid of pool sharks - like, actual fucking sharks in the pool. Did he get dropped on his head?

So logically, the solution here is for the other son to offer to give Chris swimming lessons. Wait a minute, I thought the whole plot point of the other son was that he wasn't good at anything and didn't know what he wanted to do! But now he's really good at teaching people to swim and seems to enjoy that?! It's almost like the writers just didn't give a fucking shit what they were dribbling out onto the page at this point.

And then he was immediately eaten by a pool shark.

Susan comes over and gets mad at her kids for coming over there, even though they made the cheese puffs like she wanted. But that wasn't good enough because, apparently, in that short time span in which Tina left her house and came to Phil's, the mom had a meeting that went HORRIBLY because she didn't have the fucking cheese puffs! The horror! Stop the presses! So she takes it out on everyone else and ruins everyones' lives. Fuckin' A.

Then we get a montage of Phil and Chris scanning their clothes into a computer somehow, which I guess is Tina's newfangled computer system program or whatever. I dunno, since they figured this out and seem to know how it works, what's to stop them from stealing it for themselves and making even more money than they already have? Just trying to keep it real here, movie. Plus these characters being absolute irredeemable dicks to one another would just be funnier for me. And honestly, a fucking montage of this? Are you shitting me?! I've had more fun watching videos of people getting root canals.

Yes, continue to look absolutely baffled and bewildered at everything you're doing. That makes for a good character.

So I guess the cat thinks he can solve this “problem” by going over and talking to Susan, which he hasn't done yet. Unless what comes next is a suicide pact, then I'm not interested.

But unfortunately, the cat never makes it, after being hit by a car. Yes, really – that's now a plot point in this movie. Now, what I'm about to show you is a picture of the cat's injuries, and I understand that may disturb you. So if you're the type of person who is offended by gore and violence, especially against talking felines, I suggest you click the 'Back' button on your browser.

Have you done it yet? Because I'm serious. You're going to be disturbed by this.

No, really. You will be. Last warning!

Okay then. Here are the injuries the cat sustains after the car accident:

Yup. Just one bandage on his head and that's all the injury he sustained from being HIT BY A FUCKING CAR.

Yes, my sentiments exactly.

You can't make this up, people! Hell, I can't even make jokes – the movie already is one! I guess either the cat has some aluminum plates in its skull after the war or the car that ran over him looked like this:

So I guess the cat somehow tells them that to save his life, they have to go out and find a buried collar in the woods. They go walking in the woods to a soundtrack of elevator music that sounds like it was made for a clown school, and find the collar above the ground, not buried like the cat said. Because why have anything make sense now? Who really cares about having a coherent script at all, right?

So although I was really hoping when they put the collar back on Duffy, it would magically transform him into his true form as the dark lord Lucifer, spewing hellfire and brimstone from his cracked lips and with the twisted horns atop his head that seem to be able to pierce the heavens...that doesn't happen. Instead it just magically heals him.

This is apparently what it looks like when a magical cat is healed. Also, good editing is when this happens and only one out of all those characters is looking up and appears to see it at all.

Well, that was A Talking Cat!?!. It was about as good as you would've expected from the title. I mean it isn't like you'd see the DVD cover and expect anything that much better. Christ. What was the thought process behind this? Who was the intended audience?

Oh. Well...okay then.

It isn't like Sharknado or something where it's intentionally bad...there was obviously passion in this and some kind of attempt to tell a story. But it's just incredibly backwards. The cat, for whatever fucking reason, is there to “help” people – so, obviously, he picks some really well-off middle class to rich people who have no real problems. Couldn't find a poor single mom on welfare or a high school drop out addicted to meth to help out, hmm? HMMMM?!

Well actually I'm guessing he tried, but really the only people fucking dumb enough to listen to a talking cat ended up being the characters we saw in this movie. That makes sense. And honestly the 'problems' these people have don't even seem that bad – they aren't that lonely, they seem to be doing decently financially...they have it pretty good, aside from the fact that they made some new friends at the end I guess. I guess that cat just wanted to freeload off them and not sleep in the gutter for a night.

Other than that though, this was pretty much okay. I mean, who doesn't want a movie full of long shots of nothing but nature or people driving?

These kinds of time-wasting shots take up a lot of the movie's runtime - it's pretty obvious they were just put there to pad out the rather meager 80 minute (even with these shots in there) runtime.

Who doesn't want a story with zero likable characters and dialogue more fitting of a bad 1980s commercial? Yes. I'm not going back on any of that.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.