Thursday, December 11, 2014

Murder of a Cat: Movie Review

A deceptively clever and very funny murder mystery.
Fran Kranz is Clinton - a young man who lives in his mother's basement, wears a robe all day long, has his mother drive him around town, laughs at  Who's the Boss re-runs, and refers to his cat Mouser as his best friend. The comedy angle is clear and it works. Kranz's ability to portray a comedic every-man lends Clinton a perfect amount of familiarity but mixed with an over-the-top ridiculousness that allows the film to take us wherever it wants to go. 2014

Directed by: Gillian Greene

Screenplay by: Christian Magalhaes, Robert Snow

Starring: Fran Kranz, J.K. Simmons, Greg Kinnear and Nikki Reed

 Murder of a Cat does indeed revolve around a murder of a cat and after being introduced to Clinton, and his beloved best friend Mouser (who definitely has kept secrets to himself), the mysterious Mouser is found murdered. And trust me, it's actually funny. It's devastating to Clinton, but the comedy of the opening scenes, the film noir feel, and with an up-beat surrealness, the film always remains on the comedy side of tragedy. It's a tough line to straddle but since it's always a comedy and is always funny, it shows how clever the film actually is.

A lot of the comedy comes from Clinton's one-track mind. He's a character with a singular motivation: find Mouser's murderer, and as such he often confuses discussions about himself, or entirely other topics, as being about Mouser. And indeed more cleverness comes in with a singularly-motivated lead character. Clinton subtly evolves throughout the film – it's an unexpected evolution, but one that is entirely driven by hunting down Mouser's killer.

The plot is unravelling the mystery of who killed Mouser and why. I love a good mystery and one that is driven by comedy instead of pure tragedy is even better. First we meet the local Sheriff played by J.K. Simmons, he's called by Clinton and Clinton is determined to force him to do his job and help him find the murderer. The comedy is not lost and Simmons frequently responds to Clinton's declarations with looks of exasperation. The veteran actor is great at playing the “normal” one to Clinton's extremes.

I will allow you to discover the mystery as it unfolds, but I will make two points. First we are led to a girl. Remember the film noir feel? The classic genre is used like a framing device to lead the story. But the comedy keeps up and the additional genre adds to the cleverness of the already wickedly funny script. Second, the string of evidence becomes longer and more convoluted in crimes than I would have preferred, but it does seem like a necessity in such a story. Just a bit of a warning that the comedy slows down as the identity of Mouser's killer is about to be revealed.

 Murder of a Cat  always remains a comedy, and in the final scenes, especially in the ending of the film noir aspect, the humour is back in full force and we are re-united with an hysterically funny Clinton who no longer has his singular motivation. The film is deceptively clever and very funny.
Best of 2014
Best Lesser-known of 2014

Similar Titles:

Veronica Mars (2014) - Pulls you in with the dark comedy stylings of Veronica Mars and her crime-solving ways.

Lust for Love (2014) - Four ladies too many but one great every-man gives a comedic touch to predictable lessons on love.

Revenge for Jolly (2012) - Nonsense comedy and extreme violence that did not fit together.