182: The Cat's Meow

The Cat's Meow (PG-13) - 2001 - Runtime: 114 minutes.
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard, Edward Herrmann, Carey Elwes
Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Don't ask me how I came across this movie. I really don't know. I vaguely remember being excited to see this movie when I saw the trailer for it back in the day. But I never got around to watching it. So when I signed up for my Blockbuster Online account a long, long time ago, I put it on my queue figuring I'd get to it eventually. Well, I cleaned up my queue when I started this project and somehow it didn't get deleted. So I decided to watch this movie because it was already in my possession. And it was most definitely a big mistake.

I watched it with Maggie, whom has already seen it twice. She somehow ended up watching it with her friends back when it came out on DVD and then again with her sister - so she obligingly sat down with me to watch it (she must not have remembered how truly awful this movie was).

This movie would have been suited better if it was rated R. This is just such a scandalous and wildly adult story that a PG-13 rating wouldn't do it justice. And the casting is just plain awful - Dunst plays sultry actress Marion Davies, Eddie Izzard plays Charlie Chaplin. Yes, the Charlie Chaplin. Eddie. Izzard. Let that sink in. And Mr. Gilmore himself, Edward Hermann (who, BTW, went to school with my father-in-law at Grosse Pointe) as business mogul William Randolph Hearst. First of all, Dunst isn't at all sulty nor does she seem suited for this era. Izzard as Chaplin seems like he's really just playing himself and not Chaplin. And Hermann just doesn't make Hearst as big or as menacing as he should be (whether that's factual or not).

Like I said, there's a huge story and scandal here - you're better off reading the Hearst-Ince conspiracy in a comic book rather than sitting through this movie. But suffice it to say, there's a lot of affairs, sex and murder involved. It's still one of Hollywood's biggest scandals, yet this movie makes it out to be some Enterainment Tonight soundbite story, rather than the big scandal it really was. I seem to advocate for this a lot, but sometimes it just enhances the story: show some sex! It would make the plot more meaningful, especially when the movie plot revolves around this scandalous affair.

It's quite long and I found myself becoming very bored within a half an hour, but I trudged through, hoping that if someone comes across this review, they'll save almost two hours of their life from just bad movie making. The movie doesn't have any life in it, as evidenced by the actors' portrayal of these real-life characters and by the slow plodding of the script. And the other problem with the movie is that you almost have to know about the plot before it happens. They assume you've lived through the roaring 20s and depressing 30s to know about all the gossip from that time. It's a little ridiculous - I found myself reading the comic book during the first hour just so I could make sure who was who and why they were acting the way they were. Because this movie doesn't give you any clue or payoff at the end. It just ends, with this awful narrator (who is in the whole movie and never once seems real or enlighting throughout) trying to show us with this " how crazy and zany this all was and wouldn't ya know it? Only in Hollywood...." kind of monologue in the end.

It's a damn shame because I really like stories like these. And why's it called The Cat's Meow? Beats the hell outta me, I just know this story could've used a decent catfight.

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague

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