J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fantasia ’16: Bad Cat

Shero makes Grumpy Cat look like a pretentious poser. He is an animated feline in the tradition of Fritz the Cat and Bill the Cat. The Turkish tabby is a foul-mouthed lecher, but the most subversive thing about him might be his resemblance to Garfield. Shero will duly provide plenty of swearing and cartoon violence in Mehmet Kurtulus & Ayse Ünal’s Bad Cat (trailer here), which screened during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Frankly, it really is all Shero’s fault. He tried to put the moves on a hot little Siamese while her cartoonist owner was out, but inadvertently killed both the cat and the returning human. However, the cartoonist just won’t stay dead. Each time he is resuscitated, the increasingly zombie-like human returns more determined to have his revenge on Shero.

Of course, the orange tabby hardly gives the incident a second thought. His attention has shifted to Misscat, the seductive new Turkish Angora in the neighborhood. When not berating Riza the rat and Rifki the seagull for not purloining any booze, Shero is also busy getting his ostensible owner evicted from their shabby flat and avoiding Taco, the son he never knew he had. Various such episodes are essentially strung together into a loose, mangy plot.

Bad Cat could have been amazing, but instead it is just amusing. As it is, it would probably be a “soft” R-rated film if picked up for American distribution, but that hardly registers in a post-South Park world. The film feels like it is stopping short of the gleeful subversion it calls out for—and it over-promises and under-delivers when it comes to the naughty bits.

On the other hand, Kurtulus & Ünal maintain the energy and attitude with admirable consistency. In fact, some of the action sequences are rendered with cinematic boldness. Frankly, the 3D computer animation is way better than viewers will expect. They could have easily gotten away with far less. The characters are expressive and the backgrounds are reasonably well detailed. The film just never fully gets its claws into the workaday narrative.

Still, it is minor miracle an animated film as edgy as this could be released in Turkey. You have to wonder how much the newly emboldened Erdogan will allow going forward. After all, Shero’s values are definitely not consistent with Islamist principles, starting with the defiant binge-drinking. That’s right, lets blame the cat for the coup attempt. Regardless, it is entertaining but never remotely scandalous. Recommended for animation fans who enjoy moderately off-color humor, Bad Cat helped get the party started at this year’s Fantasia in Montreal.

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