Cat Lovers and One Cat Hater (They’re Out There) Making Films About Cats

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Keegan Michael Key at Broadway Barks, a charity event for cats and dogs. Key is comic innovator and cat lover who stars in a new comedy about the daring rescue of a kidnapped kitten that belongs to his best friend. (Picture: Getty Images)
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Keanu the kitten in gangsta mode after he’s kidnapped. (Screengrab: YouTube/Red Band Trailer)

Are you ready for a comedy about two nerdy, intense cat men who will stop at nothing to find their stolen fur baby, Keanu, who is in the running to become what Slashfilm.com calls “the cutest kitten in the history of ever.” Keegan Michael Key as Clarence is his usual hyperbolic self when he goes bonkers over an adorable kitten adopted by his heart broken best friend, Rell, played by Jordan Peele in their new comedy, Keanu, that Vibe calls “an action-packed comical film for cat lovers everywhere.” “No! Oh my God, that’s the cutest kitten I’ve seen in my life,” Clarence gushes.

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“That’s the cutest kitten I’ve seen in my life.” (Screengrab: YouTube/ Red Band Trailer)

The fact that Keegan really is an animal lover gives the film a good vibe, as well as the way Rell is yanked out of his personal Slough of Despond when he opens his front door and heart to a little kitten staring up at him as if the two are destined to connect. (Don’t know how they got the kitten to meow on cue, but the effect is devastating.) Yet more evidence that 2016 is looking like the year of the cat.

We agree that Bob the Cat is the best choice to play himself in an upcoming film based on the life of street busker James Bowen, whose touching friendship with a stray cat helped turn his life around and led to the bestselling memoir, A Street Cat Named Bob. “Who else could play him?” Bowen said in an interview with the Guardian. “He’s such a character.” Actor Luke Treadaway  will play Bowen, a decision applauded on Bob’s Twitter account with the tweet: “At last, it’s official. Luke Treadaway is the perfect James.”

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The real James Bowen and Bob the Cat.

All good so far. But then there’s Nine Lives, a comedy about a billionaire who slips into a coma and finds himself living life as his daughter’s cat, Mr. Fuzzy Pants. Supremely cynical Kevin Spacey is doing the voice over for Mr.  Fuzzy Pants. The real question is, who is the cat standing in for Mr. Fuzzy Pants?

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A scene from the trailer for Nine Lives, a comedy about a cat hating billionaire who slips into a coma and wakes up as a cat. (YouTube/Nine Lives)

Apparently not one but five Norwegian Forest cats were chosen to play the part of Mr. Fuzzy Pants, according to USA Today and Sneak Preview. Why? Because they are beautiful and majestic? No, because  they are known for being a hypoallergenic breed and Nine Lives director Barry Sonnenfeld is allergic to cats, according to Sneak Preview.  “I really dislike and am highly allergic to cats,” the director told Sneak Preview. “I read the script and thought it’d be a real challenge to work with cats, given my incredible allergies,” added Sonnenfeld, known for directing the Men in  Black series.

Unlike Bowen and Key, Sonnenfeld is definitely not a cat person. “It’s interesting, because cats aren’t what you’d consider loving animals,” he said. “But through being the cat, he (the billionaire Tom Brand) learns important life lessons.” (Is there a connection on a deeper level here between the director, who is clearly missing the gene that confers self awareness, and the film’s powerful but empty mogul?) If Sonnenfeld hopes to attract movie goers who have a thing about cats, he’s off to a very poor start. Then there’s the issue of whether the cats in the film were treated with respect, which seems dubious, given some of the scenes in the trailer that show cats being thrown around like footballs.

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A scene from the trailer for Nine Lives the comedy.

About 80 percent of the scenes in which cats appear in the film include real cats, according to Sneak Preview. “Dogs can be trained, but dogs work for love and food,” Sonnenfeld is quoted as saying. “Cats don’t care about love and really don’t care that much about food, either.” Really?

Mr. Sonnenfeld seems eager to land himself in the dog house with cat lovers. Based on his profoundly ignorant comments alone, we recommend skipping this film when it comes out in August, unless the director decides to give a hefty chunk of the profits to an organization dedicated to feline rescue.

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