That Darn Cat (1997)

That darn cat nc

August 7, 2019
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(The Channel Awesome logo is displayed, then cold-open on a commercial for Kill-You's Tuffy Flakes, with Tuffy the Tiger holding up a box of the cereal)

Tuffy (voiced by Rob): So remember, kids, Tuffy Flakes isn't the healthiest cereal, but a longer life not dedicated to sugar is no life at all.

(The camera pulls back to reveal that Tuffy is standing in a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones)

Tuffy: Tuffy Flakes: They're (points in the air) gr-r-r-roing to kill you, but who cares? (shrugs)

NC: (offscreen) And... cut!

(The scene of the cemetery suddenly disappears, replaced by a green screen. NC is standing nearby, looking on his phone (presumably, he was filming it on there))

NC: Great, you have a commercial. (turns to leave the room)

Tuffy: (puts the cereal box down) Oh, Mr. Critic! (runs to NC) I just wanted to say how thankful I am that you're directing this commercial.

NC: (deadpan) Check.

Tuffy: Oh, right. (gives the check to NC) It's just the other directors actually tried my product and died very early deaths for some reason.

NC: Good thing I don't like the taste of sugar-coated cardboard.

Tuffy: How did you know the secret ingredient?

NC: Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta get ready for a crossover with the Cinema Snob.

Tuffy: You do that. And the toughiest of days to you, sir!

NC: (stares at Tuffy for a bit) You scare me. You scare me. (goes off)

(Tuffy shrugs. He turns back to pick up his cereal box, as the camera moves behind his back, suggesting that somebody is approaching him. Tuffy turns around)

Tuffy: (gasps) Oh, my God. It's you!

(And we go to the opening! After this, we fade to Doug's cat, Chaplin, waking up on a couch)

Chaplin (voiced by Doug): (speaking cheerfully) Oh, boy! What a great morning! I'm Chaplin. (walks out of the living room) Time to go enjoy the beautiful day. Oh, boy! The wall is still blue! Good job, wall! I'm Chaplin. You know what else is blue? Tuffy Flakes. I'm gonna go look at a box of it right now, because I'm Chaplin.

(Chaplin goes to a box of Tuffy Flakes on the floor...that doesn't have its mascot on it. The camera dramatically zooms in on it, and on Chaplin as well)

Chaplin: Oh, no! Tuffy the Tiger is missing! It's still a great day, but (zoom in) Tuffy the Tiger is missing!

(Chaplin goes to his owner's room and jumps on his computer chair)

Chaplin: This looks like a job for my bestest friend in the whole wide world, Lloyd, played by Lloyd. Come in, Lloyd! Come in!

(Lloyd, Brad Jones' cat, is displayed on the computer via video call)

Lloyd (voiced by Brad): Dammit, Chaplin! I told you never to call me between the times of now or ever!

Chaplin: I'm sorry, Lloyd, but it's an emergency. Tuffy the Tiger is missing!

Lloyd: (sounding worried) Oh, my God! That adorable YouTube sensation with almost 19 subscribers?

(As he says this, the screenshot of "Tuffy Tiger" YouTube channel is shown, having 18 subscribers at the time of the video's release)

Chaplin: Actually, no. It's a cereal mascot.

Lloyd: Oh. Who cares?

Chaplin: The world cares, Lloyd. And if we don't do something about it, the world may stop caring.

Lloyd: (sounding annoyed) Oh, okay. Where was he last seen?

Chaplin: At Channel Awesome studios, shooting a commercial with my owner, the Nostalgia Critic!

Lloyd: Oh, yeah. My food giver, the Cinema Snob, was heading over there, too.

Chaplin: Tuffy hasn't gotten far. Perhaps they could lead us to him. I'm Chaplin.

Lloyd: Yes. Perhaps we can keep tabs on them through my surveillance cameras I conveniently set up all over the world...

(As Lloyd speaks, we're shown the security camera in the studio's hallway, showing NC casually greeting the Cinema Snob typing on his phone next to the door of NC's room)

Lloyd: ...and see if they lead us to him.

Chaplin: Wow! You mean, like the movie That Darn Cat?

(The title of this 1997 film is shown)

Lloyd: (shakes head) No! Nothing like that.

Chaplin: Oh. Okay.

Lloyd: Let's watch them and see what happens.

Chaplin: You got it, pal!

(Cut to NC and CS calmly sitting together at NC's desk)

CS: You wanna talk about That Darn Cat?

NC: Sure.

(The title is shown again, followed by clips from the original 1965 film)

CS (vo): The original That Darn Cat! premiered in 1965 to positive reviews and a decent box office.

NC (vo): Following the story of an alley cat who police suspect could lead them to a kidnapped woman, it's one of those overlooked Disney classics that had good comedy, memorable characters, and surprisingly intimidating villains.

Dan (Neville Brand): (holding Margaret Miller at gunpoint) Because I got friends. Ten little lead-nosed friends in here. And they all run faster than you do, Moms.

(Cut to a clip from Spaceballs)

Barf: Holy shit!

(Now, we're shown clips from the 1997 film)

CS (vo): In 1997 at the height of Disney's live-action cinematic renaissance, (Several posters are quickly shown: of Air Bud, Jungle 2 Jungle, Mr. Magoo and Rocketman) a remake was released starring Christina Ricci, Doug E. Doug, and whoever else said "I need a down payment on a condo!"

NC (vo): Where the original had surprisingly a lot of personality and even suspense, this has a surprisingly small amount of "darn cat" and an annoyingly large amount of dick humans.

CS (vo): Notice how the original has an exclamation point in its title, and the remake has Comic Sans' unemployable brother? Big clue!

NC (vo): And we're gonna look at how such a lousy remake from such an enjoyable source material could have happened.

CS: With apologies to feline lovers watching.

NC: And felines as well.

(Cut back to their cats)

Lloyd: They're doing nothing but sitting there! Imagine an animal doing such a thing. Let's watch something else.

Chaplin: Lloyd! Are you suggesting we let an innocent creature die, just so you don't have to watch their review?

(Back to NC and CS)

CS: Let's take a look at That Darn Cat.

NC: Oh! You saw The Lion King remake, too?

(Both start laughing uproariously, before we cut back to two cats again)

Lloyd: There aren't enough "yes"es in the world!

Chaplin: Lloyd...

Lloyd: Okay, fine. We'll keep an eye on them.

Chaplin: I'm Lloyd.

Lloyd: No, you're not! You're Chaplin.

Chaplin: Oh, that's right. I'm Chaplin.

Lloyd: (sounding and looking annoyed) Sigh...

Chaplin: ...amese! 'Cause that's what you are. Siamese. And I'm Chaplin.

(Lloyd groans. The Walt Disney Pictures logo begins playing)

CS (vo): The film opens with the sounds of every cat tortured in the making of this production.

(Along with the traditional music, we hear the sounds of cats meowing)

NC: Well, they sound sad. Think they'll be okay?

CS: (scoffs) Not by the sound of this follow-up noise that, I swear, we didn't put in!

(The logo ends on the sound of dog growling and the cat yelping)

NC: (shocked) Jesus! Did they set Kujo on them?!

CS: Relax. Pluto just ate another kitten from The Aristocats.

NC: Another?

CS: (chuckles) He's got very dark, dark history. (NC squints)

NC (vo): The opening credits roll, but not before this important piece of information.

(The camera flies over a city, and a caption pops up denoting the location: "Boston, Massachusetts", added by "before the turn of the century...")

NC: (smiles smugly) How would you like to be Christina Ricci knowing that your top billing was stolen by the location and date?

CS (vo): Well, everyone thinks Good Will Hunting was the 1997 movie that put Boston on the cinematic map. But they're wrong: it's this.

(The music which is playing over the opening credits is R&B that has the singers shouting "That darn cat!")

NC (vo): Well, thank God they let us know when this took place. The music wouldn't have been a tip-off at all!

(The R&B continues to play, with trumpets added to the mix)

CS: (laughs) Motown! (NC gives him a weird look)

(We're shown a millionaire named Mr. Flint inside his mansion reading the newspaper while his wife, Mrs. Flint, puts her makeup on and does aerobics)

NC (vo): The film opens with one of the stars from the original, Dean Jones, playing a millionaire getting ready for bed with his wife, played by Dyan Cannon.

Flint: I'll tell you what's horrible. Even pork bellies are sagging.

Mrs. Flint: (jumping on a trampoline) Whoo-hoo-hoo!

CS: You wouldn't be laughing if you knew what his night life was like!

(Cut to a clip from Beethoven)

Dr. Herman Varnick: I need puppies.

(Flint askes her maid Lizzie for some milk. She drowsily passes by two burglars wearing white hockey masks)

NC (vo): As the credits roll, Dean asks the maid for some food while Jason Voorhees witnesses come knocking on the door.

Male Burglar: (voice distorted) You'd think with all her millions, she could afford a plastic surgeon.

CS: Hi, Peter Boyle!

NC: Mystery solved.

NC (vo): Yeah. Unlike the last film, where it was based on suspense of whether or not the kidnappers will kill the woman, here, it's supposed to be a mystery of who committed the crime.

CS (vo): But A: there's only two duos in the entire movie, which narrows it down, and B: even if you didn't know Peter Boyle was in this film, you would by the time you heard this.

Male Burglar: (voice distorted) You'd think with all her millions, she could afford a plastic surgeon.

CS (vo): It sounds like Raymond's dad kidnapped his kids and won't give them back until he divorces Deborah.

NC: Save it for the reunion show. (The snippet of the poster of Everybody Loves Raymond is shown, but with a burglar mask edited on Frank Barone)

(The burglars, intending to kidnap Mrs. Flint, abduct Lizzie instead)

NC (vo): The "unknown criminals" accidentally abduct the maid instead of the wife, as we cut to the next day, beautifully composed by your two-year-old's Pinkalicious music app.

(As we're shown Edgefield in South Carolina, the musical score by Richard Gibbs, consisting of a really small orchestra playing cartoonish brass instruments, is heard)

CS: And they say Mario Paint music is dead.

(Patti Randall, played by Christina Ricci, is first shown reading her essay to her classmates)

CS (vo): Christina Ricci plays...

NC: Let me guess. The weird girl who wears all black?

CS: No.

NC: Really?

CS: Of course that's what she's playing!

CS (vo): ...who finds blending in with the cast of Riverdale more daunting than trying to blend in with a cat she's supposed to have owned for years.

(Patti meets with her mother Judy, played by Bess Armstrong, after school, while carrying her cat DC. The camera zooms in on the cat, who is obviously trying to get out of its owner's hands)

Judy: [Why is it so] painfully hard for you to be nice?

Patti: (scoffs) I think you wound up with all the "nice" in the family, Mom.

CS (vo): This version of DC is one of the most uncomfortable-looking animals I've ever seen in a film. Every shot either quickly cuts away as if he bolted before the scene was over, or it looks like someone's waving the toy offscreen. He leaves so little impact, they actually replaced him (The film's poster is shown) with a different cat on the poster, and nobody noticed!

(The footage of DC in the 1965 film is shown)

NC (vo): The original DC has such presence, as if the people who made it knew if it was going to be called "That Darn Cat", they should probably get "that darn cat" right. I think of movies like (posters of...) Babe, or Homeward Bound, or... (The poster for the 2019 Lion King remake is briefly shown, before switching to...) Babe: Pig in the City. The animals look so invested and in every moment because they trained them so well. Here, if you feel the animal's interest being bribed with goodies, it immediately takes you out of it.

(Cut back to the cats)

Lloyd: (lying on the carpet) That is outrageous! (starts playing with something that is covered by a black circle reading "Not a cat toy") Why, if we did something like that, wouldn't you be furious?

Chaplin: (also playing with "not a cat toy") I sure would. A multi-million dollar production like that should at least get a good cat trainer.

Lloyd: What do you think this is? An online series with a one-week turnaround?

Chaplin: I'm still Chaplin!

(Some clips of the original movie are shown, focusing on the people's acting)

CS (vo): Something else you'll notice is while the eccentric cast in the original contributed to the movement of the movie, here, it's just random people doing random shit, impacting nothing.

(Patti and Judy stop at a gas station owned by Dusty, a mechanic played by John Ratzenberger. His rival Rollo (Mark Christopher Lawrence) is across the road)

Rollo: I'll do it in ten.

Dusty: Well, I'll do it in nine.

Rollo: Eight and a 10% discount!

Dusty: (approaches Rollo) Twelve and a free battery charge!

Rollo: Seven!

CS: Stop it!

NC: (tearfully) Can't you two see you're in love?!

(Cut to the police and detectives inspecting the Flints' house)

NC (vo): Dean Jones reports the kidnapping, (The shot zooms in on a depressed Mr. Flint) constantly looking like there's no God, while Agent Zeke Kelso, played by Kevin Hart prototype, Doug E. Doug, is searching for clues.

Zeke: (to FBI captain) These people are liars. (points towards Mrs. Flint) She told me she was 39. I'm tellin' you, cover-up.

NC (vo; as Derice): Sanka, you dead? (as Sanka) No, man. But my career is.

(Patti, her mother and cat walk along the street. Judy waves to Pa and Ma, the pair of shop owners, who are played by Peter Boyle and Rebecca Schull)

Ma: Yoo-hoo! Hello!

Judy: (waves in response) Hello, there!

Pa: Hi, Patti!

NC and CS: (as Pa and Ma, waving and smiling) We're the kidnappers!

NC (vo): Speaking of not trying, Christina Ricci.

CS (vo): ...Anything else you wanted to add?

NC (vo): No, I think her performance says it all.

Patti: (various scenes) The Candy Cane, where young Edgefelders go to get a sugar buzz. / Well, he's got fleas, but I think he had those before you got here. / DC! / You've only known me 16 years. / I'm gonna strangle you, DC.

NC: How can a girl who so clearly doesn't want to be there be so miscast as a girl who clearly doesn't want to be there?!

(Patti goes to a butcher shop to meet Lu, played by Megan Cavanagh)

CS (vo): Look, it's General Omar Bradley.

Patti: (pointing at a pig head made out of pig meat) Did you do this?

Lu: Yes. Yeah, I once built a castle out of Spam.

CS: Eric Idle saw it. Said it gave him a good idea for a musical.

(Two clips from the original and later films are shown to compare the main cat's breed)

NC (vo): Where in the original, it was tough for the cops to keep up with DC at night because he's a darker cat, here, he sticks out like a sore thumb! Why have they changed him from being Siamese, anyway?

CS (vo): Bad memories.

(The clip from The Aristocats, showing a Chinese cat Shun Gon playing the piano with chopsticks, is shown)

Shun Gon: (singing) Shanghai, Hong Kong, egg foo young!

NC: (nods) Ah. (CS winces)

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