By Evan Dickson
Cats. They’re as wise as they are fluffy. We know this because they spend so much time staring out of windows, just contemplating the shit out of everything. If they could talk, what would they say? And what B-list actor would they sound like? The banal answers to both of those questions are here at last thanks to a direct-to-video family comedy from a schlock horror director operating under a pseudonym. Yes, we’re talking about A Talking Cat!?!
Hollywood veteran Eric Roberts, brother of Julia, star of The Pope of Greenwich Village and The Dark Knight Returns is back as the voice of Duffy, a cat that can magically talk to people, but never the same person twice. Obviously the feline rushes directly to those in the greatest need: a retired millionaire, his closeted gay son and their neighbours.
Now you too can benefit from Duffy’s feline insight. Just don’t take it as far as director David Decoteau (credited as "Mary Carter") did. There’s a limit to everything folks.
We’ve all heard this. It’s what people say when they run out of conversation topics on a road trip. Duffy tells it to Phil, the millionaire retiree, to set him up with Susan, the single mom down the road. DeCoteau/Carter took this advice by padding the film’s 83 minute running time with lengthy establishing shots.
At least 40% of this movie is slow pans of fountains and waterfalls. You could cut out all the fountain footage and sell them bundled with honeysuckle rain scented candles as a meditation aid. There’s a full minute and a half of Susan's car driving about 10 mph over a mountain road. In movie time, 90 seconds of solid car footage basically means she drove to Mexico and back.
So relax, man! Enjoy the ride. Also, a minute and a half is exactly enough time to heat up a Pizza Pop and pack a bong. Just saying.
This is what Duffy tells Tina, the smarty-pants teen who dreams of going to “business college.” By machine, Duffy means computer, because the cat education system hasn't bought new text books since the 70s. But what Duffy is too nice to say outright, and the advice Tina really needs, is “read,” period.
Look at her face when Tina tries to read an article on her laptop. Nobody needs to move her head from left to right while they’re reading.
Tina is obviously illiterate, but so ashamed that even in the privacy of her own home, she feels the need to pretend so that a cat doesn’t think less of her.
Young Chris lives in a mansion with a huge pool, but he can’t swim and he’s too embarrassed to tell his dad. Duffy’s advice is to just ask for help, which is the most idiotic advice ever. "I can't talk to my dad!" "Just talk to him." It's the magic cat version of this ancient joke.
Chris’ dad is played by Johnny Whitaker, former child star of A Family Affair, General Hospital and adult actor in A Talking Pony!?!
That isn’t a typo, by the way, Johnny is in another talking animal!?! movie. This is the face of the talking!?! franchise, ladies and gentlemen. This is the man Don DeCoteau goes to for help when he needs a some quick scratch to pay illegal immigrants to do CGI for 90210 Shark Attack.
No joke, this shirt in the banner says “one fucking day at a time” in Spanish.
Duffy tries to give teen doofus, Trent, a pep talk by giving him directions to the magical collar that gave him the ability to speak within strict parameters. This is supposed to convince the poor kid that he has imagination or something. Whatever. It’s advice that DeCoteau and company really took to heart and it shows throughout the movie.
No budget? No script? No problem. Pad that shit with promo footage from your failed landscaping business. Toss some cocaine and whiskey on the carpet in front of Eric Roberts and record his rambling lamentations with your kid’s Rapmaster 3000. Rope in your old meth buddy Johnny, a high school drama teacher and a few street kids and blammo! You’re making a goddamn movie. That’s the kind of can-do attitude that pays off drug debts.
"We did something!"
–the last line spoken by a human in A Talking Cat!?!