Murder of a Cat

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Murder of a Cat Movie Poster Image
Forgettable, unfunny indie whodunit is fairly violent.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Encourages people to be true to themselves, even if they're labeled different or odd or geeky.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A man is determined to find his pet's killer and doesn't let anything stop him, even when it requires him to impersonate others, act like a cop, and do other iffy things. A woman looks past a man's quirks to see how he's gentle and kind.

Violence

A man's beloved cat is found dead, with an arrow sticking out of it. A man is shot at, gets in a car accident after being pursued, and is punched, threatened, and chased. A man angrily destroys a woman's car, smashing the windows and doors.

Sex

Hiding in a closet, Clinton sees Greta change (she's in her bra and underwear). Greta tells the police she believes he was masturbating while peeping on her (he wasn't). Clinton and Greta kiss a few times and have sex (no nudity). Clinton realizes his single mom is sleeping with someone and jokes about her "sexcapades." A man refers his affair with an employee.

Language

Strong language includes "f--k," "a--hole," "s--t," "bulls--t," "c--ksuckers,"  "s--t-faced phony," "d--kwad," "pervert," and more.

Consumerism

Mercedes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and drink on a few occasions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Murder of a Cat is an indie comedy/whodunit about a quirky loner who's obsessed with finding his beloved pet cat's killer. Starring Fran Kranz from Cabin in the Woods and Nikki Reed of Twilight fame, the movie isn't likely on too many teens' radar. The language is strong -- "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "c--ksucker," etc. -- and the violence surprisingly heavy (characters are held at gunpoint, beaten up, chased, and, in the case of the titular cat, killed). There's also one sex scene, plus references to masturbation, voyeurism, adultery, and an older mom's affair with a cop. Expect a little smoking and drinking, too.

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What's the story?

MURDER OF A CAT is the story of high-strung slacker Clinton (Fran Kranz), who's determined to bring the killer of his pet kitty, Mouser, to justice. Mouser wasn't just run over by a car: He was found impaled with a crossbow arrow, and Clinton doesn't believe the local sheriff (J.K. Simmons) is going to find the culprit. Ready to track down the cat killer himself, Clinton resorts to peeping, breaking and entering, and all sorts of shadiness. Along the way, he discovers that a beautiful local hairdresser, Greta (Nikki Reed), also thought the cat belonged to her. On an investigative trip to a local department store (Greg Kinnear plays the smug owner, Ford), Clinton and Greta find out that the crossbow used to kill the animal is only sold at that location; therefore, the killer must be connected to the establishment. Confusing matters is the fact that Greta not only used to work at the store, but she quit under suspicious circumstances. Meanwhile, at home, Clinton deals with his mom (Blythe Danner) dating the sheriff, who'd like Clinton to stop acting like a vigilante.

Is it any good?

It's a shame to see Simmons, Danner, Kinnear, and even the two familiar-but-not-top-tier stars wasted in this disappointing first feature by Gillian Greene. (Greene is perhaps better known in Hollywood as the wife of acclaimed director/producer Sam Raimi.) Written by former New Girl scribes Christian Magalhaes and Robert Snow, Murder of a Cat lacks zinging wordplay and eccentric but lovable characterization. Instead, Clinton is just plain unlikable for the majority of the film, and the dialogue is stilted and bland.

There's zero chemistry between Clinton and Greta, so their predictable budding romance is completely unbelievable. And when the story shifts gears and turns into a strangely violent whodunit, the attempts at humor seem misguided. The esteemed older members of the cast are so far beyond this movie, you have to wonder whether they agreed to star in it out of friendship to Greene and Raimi. Regardless of why award-winning actors would agree to make this independent movie, they can't save it, and it's best if potential viewers just skipped it altogether and checked out the cast's far better films.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Murder of a Cat's genre-bending; is it a comedy, a mystery, a thriller, or a combination of all three? Does that make it more or less appealing? Why?

  • Clinton is described a "harmless oddball" in the movie. What's your take on the character? Is he a believable portrayal? Is he a sympathetic character?

  • Do you think the "lovable loser" stereotype is sexist? Would the movie have been made had the oddball protagonist been a woman?

  • What role do sex and violence play in the movie? Are they necessary to tell the story?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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