2.0/5.0 seemed like a good score to give this movie until I really considered and thought that I was being too generous. Yes, I did give Man of Steel and Great Gatsby a 2.2, and to say that Chatty Catties was only .2 below them was unfair to both of those horrible, yet well-intentioned movies.
Chatty Catties takes place in an alternate universe where cats are able to verbalize and talk back to their owners. They say pretty much everything you'd expect them to say: they're lazy, independent, judgmental, and condescending. Although the movie starts with equal treatment of several owners and their cats (or perhaps I should say several cats and their humans), it quickly focuses on the story of Shelby (Megan Hensley) and her cat Leonard (voiced by John Autry II). Shelby is your typical directionless, aimless, basically horrible tween.
The first showing of Chatty Catties at SIFF got an enormous response: SIFF actually moved the movie venue into larger and larger theaters to accommodate more people and played to a sold-out house in the largest theater at SIFF Uptown. Seattle is kind of a perfect crowd to show a movie about talking cats and their often floundering owners. I have to add that the gentleman I was sitting next to apparently enjoyed the movie so much that he was sometimes meowing back to the screen. And indeed, everyone was enjoying this movie for the first fifteen minutes. I was cracking up so much in my seat, I was convinced this was one of the funniest movies I had seen this year.
When the novelty of sassy talking cats wears off, however, there's not much to hold you except a host of contemptible characters. If the movie had maintained an even handling of all the different owners, it would have allowed for more stamina. Instead, we're stuck with perhaps the least likable of the group and there are only sparse interjections from the other owners that are less and less relevant as the movie continues and are awkwardly shoehorned in, like the artsy nonsensical video clips that also interject the storyline. Shelby is like a Hannah Horvath from Girls, only even more destructive and debased. The writing of Girls makes for some horribly compelling watching: even if the characters are often terrible people, it's still well-done enough that you relate and find yourself unable to stop watching. Chatty Catties, on the other hand, makes you squirm and kind of kills you slowly, wishing you could escape as much as Shelby's customer at the dental office when she's bragging about the art films she makes.
1.8 because I didn't end up walking out of this movie as I did with Strangerland. It has a promising opening, the music choices are pretty on point, and the intent of the movie to illustrate the issues that contemporary society has in communicating and connecting is well-meant. But not a movie I would recommend for any sort of viewing at all, unless you want to experience what mental claustrophobia feels like.
Played at SIFF 2015
May 30 - 9:30 PM (Uptown SIFF Cinema)
May 31 - 11:30 AM (Uptown SIFF Cinema)