I implore you to watch the entire trailer just so you can fully grasp what I’m talking about. Let’s walk through it together, shall we? To start, listen to the music. This music is more grating, pompous, and stupid than any other choice out there. And it plays throughout 70% of the movie. Remember Midnight Cowboy, where “Everybody’s Talkin’” is a motif? The theme to A Talking Cat!?! is almost a motif for stupidity.
The trailer goes on. It begins to describe the plot and show some of the characters that you’ll meet throughout the film, including Phil, who wants to spend more time with his son, Chris, while Chris is dealing with his first crush. Susan is a caterer whose children, Tina and Trent, have no direction in life. The cat, Duffy, is supposed to help them solve these problems by talking to them. Just, you know, talking to them and offering them advice. Eventually, his advice brings these two families together, they become close, and it’s all thanks to Duffy because he offered each of them a nugget of advice that helps them move their lives along a little bit.
Duffy is voiced by Eric Roberts. That’s right, Oscar-nominated actor Eric Roberts decided to lend his voice to A Talking Cat!?! but only on the condition that he could record his lines on an iPhone in a bathroom. He delivers his lines with such unenthusiastic sarcasm that it’s hard to tell if his sassy tone was serious or not. The cat he voices is equally bored with his inclusion in this movie. It’s so obvious that the actual cat on screen is being lured through the physical scene by off-screen catnip or squeaky toys, but it only worked once or twice because they loop the same footage of the cat over and over. The same one or two shots of him sitting or pacing around occupy the “dialogue” scenes between Duffy and the humans. When he talks, a little black slit adorns a few seconds of Duffy footage and opens and closes in time with Roberts’s dialogue and the effect only works slightly better than the birds in Birdemic. Honestly, it’s a toss up between Eric Roberts, the cat, and the film’s SFX guy for the laziest person involved with the movie.
I wonder, who the hell is the target audience for A Talking Cat!?! (Oddly enough, I could use the title’s correct punctuation there.) If it’s a kids’ movie, it’s unfair of me to rag on a kids’ movie. They’re just kids! Why can’t I just let them enjoy their talking cats and stereotypical Mexican soundtrack? Because kids’ movies are meant to take important life lessons and condense them into something that young children can understand: heroes slaying dragons as a metaphor for conquering fears; princesses finding themselves through an adventure with a gorgeous prince; a cat fixing people’s problems by talking to them. One of these things is not like the other.
But the things happening in the lives of these five characters are WAY too complex for a child to understand. If your child is young enough to still enjoy this movie yet understands things like teenage romance, mid-life crises, and the directionless fear of a prospective college kid, then there are bigger problems with your parenting than your taste in kids’ movies. A Talking Cat!?! packages the wrong kinds of morals into a kids’ movie formula.
The problem is that the plot device is lazy. The movie hangs on the fact that it’s a magical talking cat that’s spouting advice to these characters; it could just as easily be any random guy that show’s up to this town for the first time. But then the movie wouldn’t have any reason to exist because it’s about a talking cat. Then again, the movie has no reason to exist even in its current form.
This article is part of NUFEC's Bad Movies series. Find A Talking Cat!?! on Amazon here and Netflix here.