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Film / A Talking Cat!?!

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Phil: You can talk? But only once?
Duffy: I don't make the rules, Phil.note 

A Talking Cat!?! (yes, with that exact interrobang punctuation) is a 2013 "family comedy" film directed by David DeCoteau about... a talking cat who helps a couple of families with their problems.

Duffy (Eric Roberts) is a stray cat with the ability to talk to any person once, but only once. When he comes across Phil (Johnny Whitaker), a respected programmer who's recently entered retirement, and Susan (Kristine DeBell), a caterer who's trying to keep her business and family together, he decides to help them and their families. Hilarity ensues... or, at least, it tries to ensue, anyway.

Made on a budget of $1 million,note  the film nonetheless features amateurish camera, sound and special effects, is largely confined to two houses and Roberts sounds like he's recording his lines through a burner phone in a public bathroom.note  Nathan Rabin called it "The Room of anthropomorphic animal movies starring Eric Roberts" and wondered "where the other $990,000 went".

JonTron and The Cinema Snob did reviews of the film. It was also covered on Episode 28 of the bad-film-review podcast, Tranquil Tirades. In August 2018, it was targeted by RiffTrax, and it was the subject of a 2021 How Did This Get Made? episode and a We Hate Movies syncable commentary track.

A Troping Cat!?!:

  • Bleached Underpants: The director's also done a lot of softcore gay porn, but this is family friendly. Granted, he used a pseudonym.note 
  • Camp Straight/Ambiguously Gay: Chris and Trent. This is a David DeCoteau film, after all.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Duffy, dead straight. Nearly every time he's in a shot and given lines, he makes snarky comments. Also helps he's played by a deadpan Eric Roberts.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Phil's resemblance to Rodney Dangerfield has been the butt of many a reviewer's joke.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Duffy talks to Tina for the first time, she tries explaining to her mom, who is only confused that there's a cat there in the first place, completely ignoring Tina's claims that Duffy, you know, spoke to her.
  • Conflict Ball:
    • It's not really clear why Phil and Chris are having problems. Phil acts a perfectly friendly and loving father, albeit a slightly eccentric one. Yet for most of the film, Chris is weirdly hostile towards him, talking to him as if he's a deadbeat jerkass. Based on some dialogue early on, the intent appears to have been that Phil prioritized work over family (e.g., Chris opining he had enough money to retire years ago, Phil saying they can finally take some trips that had been put off), but the rest portrays him as a rather attentive parent fully involved in his son's life, making Chris's hostility this.
    • There's also Susan absolutely hysterical when Phil accidentally drops some food she made, which seems to happen solely to keep the "plot" going.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cat on the cover is not the cat in the actual film. It's the same breed, but the one on the cover is clearly a kitten with blue eyes while the one in the movie is an adult cat, is a little bit fat, and has yellow-green eyes. At least the RiffTrax poster has the correct cat.
  • Creative Closing Credits: When the movie ends, there's a montage of clips of each major actor. During the regular credits, assorted clips of the cat are spliced in.
  • Deus ex Machina: Duffy's magic collar suddenly has healing powers.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The car that hits Duffy.note 
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: See Gratuitous Spanish below. "Pinche" is quite a bit stronger than the costuming department thought, if anyone there could actually speak Spanish at all.
  • Dull Surprise: Duffy, which is what happens when your voiceover actor records all of his lines in 15 minutes in his living room.
  • Fanservice: Trent teaching Chris to swim. Two handsome shirtless guys in a pool with not so subtle homoeroticism.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: At one point, Phil is wearing a shirt that says "UN PINCHE DIA A LA VEZ" - "One fucking day at a time". This in an otherwise wholesome movie.
  • Homemade Inventions: Tina invents a computer program that somehow analyzes clothing and makes suggestions of outfits to wear. Ignoring the utter impracticality of such a hypothetical program, it shouldn't be overlooked that the peripheral device attached to this program to "identify" clothes is, in fact, a booklight.
  • I Choose to Stay: After recovering, Duffy remarks he's chosen to stay with the merged family.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Even Duffy isn't sure why and how his collar healed his injuries. He wonders if it just gave him the nine lives that cats are always said to have.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Averted. After Duffy gets hit by a car, Trent suggests they dig up the magical collar that lets him talk, despite being given no indication it has healing powers. It works.
  • Manchild: Phil, who cheerfully plays with a car-shaped chair and makes car noises.
  • The Matchmaker: Duffy gets two couples together (Frannie/Chris and Phil/Susan).
  • Meet Cute: Attempted and failed. Kinda played straight (in the loosest sense of the word "straight") with Chris and Trent.
  • Mirror Monologue: By Phil.
  • Mood Whiplash: Duffy getting hit by a car and critically injured right in the middle of a typical cutesy scene. It comes so far out of left field that you'd be forgiven for thinking someone altered your copy of the film.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Duffy's collar, being inexplicably given healing powers to make him recover from being ran over.
  • Pair the Spares: Frannie seems to exist solely to pair Chris off with someone.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Played loudly and incessantly repeated on a electronic keyboard. "La Cucaracha", in particular, is recognizable.
  • Random Events Plot: There's no real narrative structure, which seems to shamble from one scene to the next.
  • Rich Boredom: Phil starts out freshly retired and unsure what to do with all his free time. Duffy suggests he start taking walks so that he'll meet Susan.
  • Scenery Porn: There's lots of long Establishing Shots of forests and the like. It also causes some continuity/logic issues; Phil and Chris switch between living near an arid desert/beach, yet are somehow neighbors to Susan and her kids, who appear to live in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Tina and Trent, taken to an absurd degree. These two high-school-aged siblings bicker at each other in a manner that even kindergarteners would find immature.
  • Shirtless Scene: As mentioned above, the scene in-which Trent teaches Chris how to swim.
  • Stock Footage: Several shots of empty rooms, house exteriors and surrounding woodlands and wildlife, which director David DeCoteau inserts and reuses in most all his movies filmed in these same locations. All told, there are 59 establishing shots in this 83-minute feature, and none of them have any logical place in the context of the film.
  • Talking Animal: Three guesses, no prizes. It's even part of a series of talking animal movies by David DeCoteau under a pseudonym, as the Snob points out.list 
  • Title Drop: Occurs at several points, some more forced than others.
  • The Un-Favourite: Tina's an interesting example in that she's actually the overachiever compared to her brother.
  • Unknown Character: The driver of the car that comes out of nowhere, nearly hitting Phil and later Duffy, who isn't so lucky in particular, is never shown in full outside of a barely visible figure when the car enters the shot.
    • As is Duffy's previous owner, as mentioned below.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Eric Roberts as Duffy the Cat. Special points for his "nom nom nom" noises when the cat eats.
  • Voodoo Shark: As pointed out by RiffTrax, who makes the rule that Duffy can only speak to humans once?
  • A Wizard Did It: Apparently, a previous owner of Duffy's gave him a magic collar, which is how he's able to speak. It also revives him from serious injury.