A Talking Cat!?! (2013)

“I’m losing money on those cheese puffs!”

Justin’s rating: The hairball of comedy movies!

Justin’s review: Some people have absolutely no business making actual movies, due to a lack of talent, experience, and a grasp of what, exactly, a “movie” is. But we can fall to our knees in rapturous thanksgiving that such deluded directors like David DeCoteau go ahead and do it anyway. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to live in a world where A Talking Cat!?! wasn’t part of the cultural landscape.

How do you even describe this movie? I think we start with the intentions of the film makers. From what I can deduce, this movie is supposed to be about a sarcastic cat named Duffy (voiced, and I am serious here, by Julia Roberts’ older brother Eric) who occasionally talks and has a desire to help people out of their ruts in life. Rumor is that Roberts sat down in his living room and recorded all of his lines for this in 15 minutes. Which sounds right, after having watched it. Anyway, I guess this inexplicably magical cat makes two families his projects and does the absolute bare minimum in changing the course of their lives.

What actually comes across on screen is a parade of awkward acting, “jokes” that don’t land in the least, establishing shots from two vastly different biomes, meandering conversations that require footnotes to understand, a skeezy vibe, scenes that were shot in one take, people wandering toward and away from microphones, the world’s largest laptop, terrible special effects, a half of a car, a magic life-infusing collar, a tree statue wearing high heels, and a testament to the glory of CHEESE PUFFS.

Trust me, you’ll never hear people talk at such length and with such love about puffy cheese than you will in this film.

So we’ve got a sweaty retired tech company owner named Phil who looks like a melting Rodney Dangerfield and is searching for a purpose in life. He’s got a dorky son who can’t swim — and can’t figure out when a girl is actually hitting on him. In another house is Susan, an aspiring cheese puff business owner, and her two teenage kids. The cat goes back and forth between the houses, mostly doing nothing, while the families slowly stumble toward each other.

The name of the movie comes from the fact that the cat — through the magic of very bad mouth CGI — talks to each of the characters to offer advice. But only once apiece, because “that’s the rules.” What rules? From whom? For what reason? Of course it’s not explained, but it doesn’t seem to matter very much because everyone spends most of those cat-human conversations being incredulous about a speaking feline. It’s really the least interesting part here. In fact, I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t a nature stock footage festival that someone spliced in a few home movies.

Alternatively, I am suspicious that this entire project was a thinly veiled excuse to film the director’s cat — named Squeeky, and I know that from the end credits, thank you very much — and then show it to the world like the most annoying instagram account, hoping for people to love this puss as much as he does. If you’re in the market for a cat lying around and occasionally showing its butt to the camera, then you should go no further. It’s all here, all in one package.

Perhaps A Talking Cat!?! could be a useful took for aspiring film makers to study in order to learn from an expert’s wide array of mistakes. For us, of course, it’s an endless fountain of screamingly dumb entertainment and a 90-minute commercial for cheese puffs. Excuse me, I’m starving. I need to fill my mouth-hole with processed dairy.

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