Gu Gu, the Cat (Gou-Gou datte neko de aru) [2008] • Japan

Major misfire. What on earth is Marty Friedman doing in this movie? First of all, this flick has very little to do with, and gives very little screen time to, cats. When the little felines do get a moment in the spotlight it is usually accompanied by some silly video game sound effects. To what end, I cannot fathom. Just like Marty Friedman. The ex-Megadeath guitarist plays an English teacher who has nothing to do with anything except looking like a cross between Kenny G and a beardless Harry Shearer as Derek Smalls in This is Spinal Tap. He acts as a narrator of sorts in the film and breaks the fourth wall when acting as a guide to various hot spots around the trendy Kichijoji neighborhood. Why he is doing any of this in the film, I don't know. Perhaps it is some sleight of hand trying to take our attention away from the three fat girls in the movie who serve no purpose except being the brunt of fat jokes. How lame is that?

There is one sort of take-your-breath-away moment in the film when Suzuka Ohgo, who played the blue-eyed little girl in Memoirs of a Geisha, shows up as the human incarnation of the main character's dead cat. She is sitting in the shadows at a table for quite some time as if, since she is playing a dead cat, we are not going to ever see who she is or what she looks like. When the camera finally acknowledges her face ... oh my, the girl is maturing nicely. Beautiful smile.

I like Kyôko Koizumi quite a bit, and she does her best, although sullenly so, as the main character who gets depressed when her cat Ca Va (the one later played by Suzuka Ohgo) dies. Juri Ueno's character is much more appealing. She actually gives the film hope as she tries to cheer up Koizumi and the movie. Koizumi finally gets a new cat, Gu Gu, but then she gets cancer and blah blah blah.

This film is a real dud. It felt like the only people who might remotely enjoy the silly set piece antics would be the people who made the film. It comes off as an inside joke we are on the outside of. I'm a cat person and had high hopes for this film after absolutely loving the director's Josee, the Tiger and the Fish. But, nope. There's nothing here.

Director: Isshin Inudou
Starring: Kyôko Koizumi, Denden, Juri Ueno, Marty Friedman, Naojirô Hayashi, Tatsuya Isaka, Ryo Kase, Suzuka Ohgo


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