By: Trevor Chartrand
Cat Daddies is a documentary about, you guessed it, men who own cats. As someone with a career in the pet industry, and as a ‘Cat Daddy’ myself, I could safely assume I’m the target audience for Hye Hoang’s movie. While I had high hopes for Cat Daddies to spin some riveting “tails” (eh? eh?!), this doc, unfortunately, is barely fur-deep.
Now don’t get me wrong: this is a quaint little film that does feature some cute stories, but it lacks direction and an overall purpose. Essentially, Cat Daddies boils down to a series of short vignettes starring male cat owners that focus on their connection and relationship with their pets. Some of these stories are more interesting than others, but none of them are overly compelling or groundbreaking. The pacing of the film suffers every time a new ‘cat dad’ is introduced, and some of the stories aren’t necessarily unique enough to set them apart either.
The most compelling subject depicted in this documentary zeroes in on a homeless man with cancer, and his struggle to make his appointments and surgeries without losing his cat to the streets – his only companion in daily life. His concern for what could happen to his cat if his disease takes him is truly heartbreaking.
Another interesting portion of the film showcases a feral cat rescue, run by a man, and the difference they are making by neutering stray cats and taming them to be loyal housepets. It feels as if there’s a real story being told in this section of the film – a story worth telling, that is. I could easily find myself enjoying a feature-length exploration of this rescue, leaving the rest of this picture on the cutting room floor.
The unfortunate reality is that most of the doc features a series of inconsequential, vapid, pet owners; including ‘influencers’ who use their cats for internet views, snatching up “likes” as if they’re some kind of relevant currency. I suppose it makes sense to explore the subject, given the current climate for online cat content. But the majority of the interview subjects are just plain, average, dudes…who happen to own cats. And so, while all the cats may be interesting, many of the interviewees are not.
So sure, this film is cute, and it certainly revels in its simplicity. What’s most grating, however, is that Cat Daddies lacks any clear message or theme, or reason for being. “There are men out there who own cats, and who love cats” that’s true, but it’s not exactly a shocking revelation. What point is the filmmaker trying to make to their audience? What purpose does this film serve? Unfortunately, it’s Hoang’s lack of direction that ultimately makes Cat Daddies feel meandering and, frankly, redundant.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor