A Talking Cat!?! was specifically made to waste your time. Not just in an “OMG LOL I can’t believe we’re watching this bad movie” sort of way but in every way possible. Here is all the dialogue from the riveting “Did We Get A Cat” scene.
Chris: Dad, did we get a cat?
Phil: No, why?
Chris: What do you do when you like a girl?
Phil: Well, uh…
Chris: Oh, I did see a cat. That one.
Phil: Yeah, me too.
Chris: Weird, right?
Phil: Hey, let’s order that pizza.
Chris: Yeah, I’d like that.
Nine lines in the entire scene.
Number one, what the hell kind of fractured language do these people speak? Pick a topic and stick to it! Girls, pizzas, cats. Something!
Secondly, and most importantly, this scene lasts 30 seconds longer than a 9 line scene should. To open the scene, Phil strolls aimlessly through his unnecessarily large home with an expression of loss on his face.
Hmm. The scene is still running about 20 seconds short. You know, the audience is too dumb to figure out how people get from one place to another. We had better show Chris descend the stairs.
What have we learned from this scene? Girls and cats are trumped by pizza, and this movie will end up being 50 minutes longer than it needs to be.
Also, stairs allow you to move from one area of the house that is higher to another area of the house that is lower.
OR, I don’t want to blow your mind here, stairs allow you to move from one area of the house that is LOWER to another area of the house that is HIGHER.
I’ll understand if you need to take some time to process this all. This has been a harrowing 39 seconds of film.
Writer and director David Mamet scripts dialogue in a clipped, fast-paced, and natural style. Actors should be able to give a fairly good performance by simply reading the words he has written. The pauses and cadence are in the writing.
Here is an example of the dialogue in A Talking Cat!?!
Girl: Hi. Is this Chris Barber from Mr. Garvey’s class?
Chris: Um…no…I mean, ya, it is. I was in Mr. Garvey’s class last year…but…yeah.
Did I mention that David Mamet is known for his wit? That’s also kinda necessary when crafting dialogue. What the hell kind of sense does the above dialogue make? A duck stuffed into a French press would make more sense.
So Girl calls up Chris and needs help with English. Girl never introduces herself. She doesn’t mention her name once.
Let’s go through some of the logistics here. We know Chris is doing his summer reading, which indicates that it is summer. We know Chris WAS in Mr. Garvey’s class. So we’ll assume Chris did well and completed the class since Mr. Garvey is recommending him as a tutor to Girl.
Chris is very flustered by Girl, as indicated by his frantic conversation. So Chris knows who Girl is. And since Girl will be taking Mr. Garvey’s class, and this is summer, Girl must be in a lower grade than Chris.
Why would Chris have any idea who this is? Introduce your stupid self, is what I’m trying to get at here. Sure, there are bigger flaws in this movie. But even the little things make absolutely no sense!
And we have a goddamn talking cat coming up. A cat that talks to people. Just because we suspend our disbelief for a talking cat doesn’t mean you can coast through the rest of the movie assuming we are on board!
ANYWAY! The phone call ends and Chris berates himself by saying, “I’m so lame. What in the world am I going to do? Frannie, she is going to be here tomorrow.”
Frannie. How does he know who this is? Why is this the first time we hear her name? This is not how people talk. Not even to themselves. “Frannie, she is going to be here tomorrow.” Thanks for the last minute exposition, jackass.
Oh, but hold up. Drop everything! There’s a cat in the house! That’s the most incredible thing Chris has ever seen! He needs to check this out right now!
Acting with your eyes closed is the most powerful kind of acting.
I found the house! The house from A Talking Cat!?! and all those 1313 films!
After squinting at houses on Google maps and looking at houses available for filming locations, I did a search for “vw bug couch malibu, ca” and BAM, first result.
1807 Latigo Canyon Road
Malibu, CA 90265
Here is an excerpt from their estate sale listing.
“We are selling the contents of a 7,000 sq. ft home in the hills of Malibu. This beautiful home has so many interesting pieces! VW Bug Seating, Unique Art, Mid-century Furniture, Modern Furniture, we have Theatre Seating, a Ms. Pacman machine, Ben & Jerry’s original 1986 cow cut-out artwork, Fabulous Rugs, plus tools, books, camping and sports equipment, an entire gym for sale. We even have a Lotus engine turned coffee table!!! So much great stuff! And because we know it’s a bit of a drive for you, our prices are even better than normal!!”
Come on A Talking Cat!?! and estate sale listing! Quit using up all the exclamation points! Other people need them too.
Also of note. The home from A Talking Cat!?! where Phil and Chris live has 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. That’s 5 extra of everything. They could change their rooms like day-of-the-week underwear.
Makes me think of the H. H. Holmes’s Murder Castle. Phil and Chris must have started their own little murder castle in Malibu.
Phil, the father in A Talking Cat!?!, certainly murdered his wife. I have deduced this because:
- She isn’t around
- His son hates his guts with the power of a thousand suns
Phil enters the world of A Talking Cat!?! with a sigh. After an extended period of silence, Phil’s first line is addressed to a piece of driftwood wearing hooker pumps.
Phil’s line is “That thing is hideous. What was I thinking?” I had a theater professor who would walk out on any production of Hamlet if the first line wasn’t delivered correctly. He said that “Who’s there” encapsulated everything that Hamlet was about.
“That thing is hideous. What was I thinking,” is really Phil speaking directly to the audience about A Talking Cat!?! Phil is the voice of the director. The Cléante in Molière’s Tartuffe, if you will.
Like how I mentioned a bunch of plays to sound smart? Me too. Let’s keep going.
After addressing the driftwood, we are introduced to Phil’s son Chris. Phil flies into the room making car noises, interrupting Chris’s “summer reading.”
This is the face you make when someone interrupts your summer reading.
Chris gives Phil the first of four eye-rolls we’ll see in this scene. That’s not counting the four “whatever” sideways glances Chris gives.
Chris hates Phil so much! Phil states that he now has enough money to retire, and Chris needles Phil by saying he already had enough money to retire.
“Maybe we could go on those trips we talked about,” suggests Phil. “What trips,” questions Chris.
Phil must be thinking about the trips he discussed with his wife before he murdered her in front of Chris.
The extent of Phil’s retirement plans is “Guess I’ll hang out here at the house for a while.” When Phil brings up learning to cook, Chris shuts him down with a “Well, I’ve got a lot of summer reading to catch up on. Maybe we’ll order pizza later.”
That’s a solid move, Chris! You ended the conversation AND slammed Phil’s cooking aspirations to the ground in one go! Chris must practice his hatred while he is alone.
And then Chris exits the scene. For 15 seconds.
Chris leaves the room, walks to the stairs, walks up the stairs, and walks out of view. I timed it. It’s 15 seconds of exiting. Because if we didn’t see it all, we’d never know if Chris actually made it up the stairs!
So what’s next? Will Phil murder Chris? And how will being dead affect Chris’s summer reading? Come back to find out!
Don’t stare directly at the mouth of A Talking Cat!?! lest he eat your soul.
Phil and his son Chris have a strained relationship. Post-Eric-Robers-voice-over-opening, A Talking Cat!?! begins when Phil returns to his echoey home early.
Jeez, okay. We need to talk about the sound. Aside from the sugary synthesized score of Harry Manfredini, the sound quality is the first truly horrible thing to slap you in the head. As soon as Phil turns the handle of the front door, the reverberations of its metallic clicks shoot back and forth across the cavernous expanse of his spacial entryway.
For the recording of dialogue, a film would normally have a boom operator holding a fluffy microphone over or under an actor’s head to capture their voice and nothing else. The sound effects (such as a door opening or footsteps) would be added later by a foley artist.
But if you’re going to make a film for a million dollars, you need to work with a skeleton crew. And if you can’t find a necromancer to raise up the dead to work for you, you have to use a scaled back crew. That means no boom mics and no foley artist.
What we get is a single mic, probably mounted on top of the camera, capturing every last sound made in a house that doesn’t even have carpeting for sound dampening.
I was going to talk about Phil and Chris in the post, but the sound takes so many missteps from moment one it needs to be brought up.
But here’s a fantastic bit of dialogue, to hold you over until the Phil and Chris update.
Phil: It’s over.
Chris: What’s over?
Phil: The company.
Obviously, Chris, you dummy. What else would Phil be bringing up for the first time ever?
The first non-cat character to appear in the talking-cat-centric movie A Talking Cat!?! is Johnny Whitaker. If you haven’t heard that name in a while (or ever), that’s because Johnny’s last big gig was in 1973 on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.
The years, especially 30 of them, aren’t kind to anybody. For instance, I was a much more attractive 3-year-old. All dimples and a spirit that hadn’t been crushed by the weight of the world. However, Johnny’s acting chops seem to be stuck in a state of arrested development.
Actually, that’s an unfair statement. I’ve never seen Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. But people tend to get better at things the more they do it. If you think about it, I’m being generous in stating that his acting has stayed at the same level. Because if it hasn’t, that means he was worse in Sigmund and the Sea Monsters than A Talking Cat!?! and my brain can’t handle that possibility.
Johnny Whitaker plays the character of Phil, a man who finds himself retired and lost in the frightening sea of unlimited time and possibilities. On the script, Phil’s character description reads something like “Phil did something with website and now he sold website and has more money than he had before from website.”
Phil will use his spare time to walk from one end of his giant foyer to the other, embarrass his teenage son, stalk a neighbor, and talk to a cat. Not sure how you prepare for a role like this, but it can probably be accomplished by going to the gym and staring at people working out.
Will Phil finally connect with his teenage son? Will all his stalking pay off? Will he ever find a replacement for website that he loved so much? Will he feed a strange cat a mixture of milk and tuna? Stay tuned to find out.
But, actually, yes to all those questions.
I’ve been trying to come up with a drinking game based on A Talking Cat!?! but I can’t seem to make one that doesn’t end up with everyone dead of alcohol poisoning.