Ladies and gentlemen, all this snow has really done a number on me. I mean, the subways are running with delays, schools and businesses are closing, and there’s a salt shortage in the city! Now, I’m not saying my actual schedule of get up, eat, sleep, walk, sleep, sleep, walk, play with things on strings and wires, eat, sleep has changed much, but boy, that guy shoveling the sidewalk outside sure is keeping me up. Just stop it, already – you’re scaring all the birds on the fire escape away!
Anyway, with all this free time I had not being able to sleep as soundly as I would like, I decided to take in a foreign film. I chose THE CAT RETURNS, a 2002 Japanese film put out by Studio Ghibli. Although not directed by Ghibli’s founder, Hayao Miyazaki (best known for SPIRITED AWAY and the like), it still has Studio Ghibli’s stamp all over it.
The story concerns Haru (voiced in English by Anne Hathaway doing an Anne Hathaway impression ala Mia from THE PRINCESS DIARIES), a clumsy high-schooler who just can’t seem to get anything right. One day she saves a cat from getting hit by a truck with her lacrosse stick, although I’m not sure why she bothered since the guy had eight lives left. Anyway, we find out that the cat she saved is Prince Lune, heir to the throne of – wait for it – The Cat Kingdom.
(Disclaimer: I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of said Cat Kingdom. To do so would be a felony in Cat Kingdom law. Whoops.)
The Cat King – a delicious Tim Curry – offers her repayment (read: RETURNS…!) in excess. The returns, however, come in the form of extra lacrosse sticks, a field of cattails in her front lawn, live mice in her school locker, and a pack of cats following her all over town. This does not help her awkwardness at school, and she is appalled at what her life has become.
Not to fret, says an employee of the Cat King. We’ll take you back to the Cat Kingdom and you’ll marry the Cat Prince. She says yes. This will solve all of my problems. I agree. Poor girl.
(Kids – do not think that marrying the first cat that comes along with solve all of your problems. We may be the best creatures on the planet, but that doesn’t mean we’re a fix-all.)
The employee leaves to spread the good news. He’ll be back later to pick her up, he says, and leaves.
Haru has a change of heart. She doesn’t want to marry a Cat Prince. But what can she do? That guy has already left! Gah!
Then a disembodied voice tells her to seek out The Cat Bureau. They’ll help her. Of course.
Here’s where we meet the sidekicks of the tale. The Baron (a dashing Cary Elwes), Muta (a curmudgeonly Peter Boyle), and Toto (Elliot Gould as a crow) all join her cause.
But then the Cat Kingdom cats come and take her away. Rats! Muta is able to steal a ride on the backs of a herd of stampeding cats (like ya do) and follows her into The Cat Kingdom.
Once there, such strange happenings occur! In preparing for the wedding (which she has to do – she agreed to it!), she brings up a good point. She’s not a cat. Not to worry, the dastardly Cat King says. You’re well on your way.
And just like that – OMG SHE’S TURNING INTO A CAT! It’ll take full effect at the end of the day.
It’s a good thing the Baron comes in to save her!
With pluck, determination, and comedic happenstance, they save her from marrying Prince Lune (who turns out to be a really nice guy and had no idea what his dad was up to) and deliver her safely home, where she does not end up turning into a cat.
She finds herself, learning to be happy with who she is, and doesn’t even care that her crush broke up with his girlfriend. She doesn’t need some boy to be happy. (Get it, girl!)
All in all, it was a lovely film.
Filled with cats. Did I mention the cats?
So now it’s time for the score. And this film gets a score of……………………………
Holy kittens!!!!! A perfect 100!!
Caveat: This film is animated, so I can’t say you’re going to see real, live cats acting their faces off. So, a modified 100, we’ll say. 🙂
With that, I’ll see you next time, folks. I’m going to enjoy myself another snow day. Meow!