The problem is not “That Darn Cat.” It’s that darn script.
A bland remake of the 1965 Disney movie, it gives us Christina Ricci (in the Hayley Mills role) as a character who will seem hip only to fifth-graders. But we also get a genially goofy Doug E. Doug as a cop. We get a script that isn’t the incisive satire of suburbia it could be. But we also get Bess Armstrong’s gleefully daffy version of a prim, small-town matron.
Ricci’s cat, D.C., gets the plot purring when she shows up wearing a wristwatch around her neck. The watch looks like one that belonged to a kidnap victim, so Ricci enlists Doug E. Doug to help unravel the mystery. Meanwhile, D.C. shows us that the sleepy town has as many juicy, well-hidden secrets as did Twin Peaks.
Ricci, who always wears black, manages a few mildly outrageous lines. Like when a snotty classmate says, “Nice outfit. Going to a funeral?” and Ricci replies, “Yeah. My youthful enthusiasm died.” But the script rounds off what should be her character’s rough edges, and Ricci overdoes the snide act so that instead of her character being contemptuous of the town, it feels like Ricci being contemptuous of the movie. The script also slights the underused Doug, who is very funny when he tries to solve the mystery by thinking - and acting - like D.C.
On the other hand, if you’re a parent, watching this movie won’t make you want to hurl. There’s some friction between Ricci and her folks, but they have a solid relationship, and the movie doesn’t assume that all parents are dolts.
xxxx Locations: Lincoln Heights, Newport and Showboat cinemas Credits: Directed by Bob Spiers, starring Christina Ricci, Doug E. Doug Running time: Rating: PG