Day Five was a virtual day at the film festival. It was also take your cat to the film festival day as I shared the couch with a cat and watched the documentary CAT DADDIES.
The appeal of CAT DADDIES is easy to understand. It’s a breezy 90 minutes focused on men and their cats. Given the appeal of cat videos and cats as pets, a slightly deeper look at cats and their owners is a pretty easy hook. On the absolute surface level, it works. You’re going to see cute cats get hugged, cuddled, and do cute things for 90 minutes.
However, the film promises that it will take a look at the relationship between men and cats and myths of masculinity. And, no, it really doesn’t delve very deep or incisively into that. Perhaps because the idea that men and cats are incompatible is more myth than reality. Cats are a popular pet and its not just crazy cat ladies that have them.
Instead of pulling at one thread, CAT DADDIES aims for a more rounded portrait of nine men with cats and their relationships. The film loses a bit of focus in favor of a gimmicky nine lives bit as to cover everyone it often has to cut away just when things are getting interesting. Honestly, you see one story about a guy that’s made his cat a social media star, you’ve seen them all, and CAT DADDIES has three of this type. Less coverage and a deeper focus would have been more in this case.
Fortunately, a couple of stories are legitimately interesting and touching. One of the men runs a charity that humanely traps, spays and neuters, and releases feral cats in Brooklyn. Some of those cats get adopted, but the population is brought under control without crowding shelters where cats may await euthanasia. It’s work and a deeper commitment.
The absolute star segment is the story of David, a homeless New York man with his cat Lucky. David is suffering from some severe medical issues which separates him from his beloved cat during the course of the film, and during the pandemic, and it brings to focus how deep the bond is between the two. A crummy hand was dealt to both of them, but their mutual relationship is a rock that makes both their lives better. It’s the highlight of the film and the story where CAT DADDIES most lives up to its promise.
CAT DADDIES plays once more at the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival, today April 26, 2022 at 3:00 pm at the Oriental Theatre and is available on Milwaukee Film’s virtual app during the festival. The 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from April 21, 2022 until May 5, 2022. You can get tickets at mkefilm.org.