Bad Cat

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 07/20/16 03:57:59

"Bad kitty, silly movie."
3 stars (Average)

SCREENED AT THE 2016 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It's not like people ask me if I've seen "the Turkish 'Star Wars'" on a regular basis, but I suspect I get it more than most and saying "no" by itself just leads to people trying to sell me on a movie with "being terrible" as one of its selling points. Now, at least, I've got a good redirection - I may not have seen that, but I've seen the Turkish "Garfield", and this one at least manages to be kind of funny in its violent, vulgar insanity.

Serafettin (voice of Ugur Yücel) - "Shero" for short - is a big orange cat, but instead of being a lazy curmudgeon, he's more of a thug, stealing liquor, hanging out with vermin, and otherwise making life miserable for his nominal owner "Tank" Tonguç (voice of Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan). Today, he's looking to hit that sexy new Siamese that his buddy has spotted, but let's put that aside for a second, as orphaned kitten Tacettin/"Taco" has shown up claiming to be his son - not that he cares; only human dads care about their litters. Still, Taco is crimping his style with classy white Angora Misscat (voice of Demet Evgar), although that might not be quite so bad as that Siamese's owner coming back as a zombie hell-bent on getting revenge on Shero (I told you that didn't turn out well).

Although I've known many a sweet cat in my time, even the most die-hard cat lover will admit that some of them can be real jerks, and Bülent Üstün's "Kötü Kedi Serafettin" appear to take that as a starting point, with Shero a grouchy, selfish monster who smacks his friends around, probably has many more bastards than Taco, and has a number of other unsavory habits, and a lot of the people and animals around him aren't much nicer. It's the sort of unpleasantness that would probably feel like a little too much even with the movie a mere eighty minutes long, so Üstün and co-writer Levent Kazak do a few things to ameliorate it, making sure to bounce Shero from one situation to another, having his heart not be very big but probably not totally nonexistent, and, when all else fails, giving him a thoroughly unhinged adversary. It keeps the comedy black but not quite to the point where the audience is supposed to pump its fist at Shero being nothing but mean.

The benefit of having guys like that front and center is that you can do a lot of ridiculous slapstick, and the filmmakers sure seem to have a lot of fun with that, as well as any other form of crude humor they can put it. A lot of jokes don't work; a lot of others may make one feel bad for laughing at it, but there are enough moments of pure cartoon silliness to make up for a lot - Shero and company robbing a bank, for instance, is funny in large part because it's not especially violent at first, but just cats and rats and seagulls who hate the water stumbling around - especially when the gags are coming every twenty seconds or so. Some of them, admittedly, are violent or cruel enough that they may poison the well for even the less-offensive material, but the filmmakers certainly can't be called lazy or inept.

The animation isn't bad either. Sure, it's not up to the standards of American studios that can throw a hundred million bucks at a cartoon, but there seldom seems to be much that directors Ayse Unal and Mehmet Kurtulus just can't do, zipping the camera through a busy cartoon version of Istanbul and not having the problems with fur and feathers that other smaller studios can have. The character design isn't necessarily pretty aside from the seductive Misscat (making me wonder if the people working on a movie like this know they've got it right when the cartoon cat starts to look uncomfortably good), but they get the characters' personalities across pretty well, and are just flexible enough that Taco can come across as the cute little kitten and Shero's scheming kid without either stretching it. The voice work isn't bad, although I suspect it will be dubbed should it ever get any sort of American release.

"Bad Cat" is not exactly a smart movie, or the one you pull out to show that animation can be for grown-ups too; it's a screwy bit of raunch that I probably wouldn't find nearly as funny if I couldn't match it to something else. But I laughed, more than I expected from funny animals with the sex, violence, and swearing cranked up, and that is the intended result.

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