Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. That should be enough of a review right there. You should know, just by the simple fact that Lifetime has created a movie based on a cat who got famous on the internet for kind of not looking very happy that it isn’t worth your time. But now that cat’s been thrown into an uninteresting fictional movie that takes place around Christmastime. There’s a limit, folks, as to what we as a society should do with the internet. The fact that this movie got made might tell us that we’re approaching that limit.
The main plot here revolves around a 12-year-old girl, Chrystal (Megan Charpentier), whose mother just got divorced and she has no friends because of reasons. She volunteers at the local pet store, because at least there are animals there. One day, Santa (Russell Peters) offers her a wish. She wishes for friends or something, and then, just like that, she can hear Grumpy Cat’s internal monologue, which comes through in the voice of Aubrey Plaza. The monologue/narration is meta, fourth-wall breaking, sarcastic, and basically everything that you’d expect given the talent providing the voice.
But wait! There’s a plot. The shop’s owner is behind on his bills, but he’s found a dog that’s worth $1 million, and that’ll save things. But then there are thieves, who want to be rock stars, who are going to steal the dog. It’s up to Chrystal and Grumpy Cat to save the day, whether the cat likes it or not. You know, animal cruelty is something I feel is often overlooked in society, and making the cat star in an awful Lifetime movie might be close to exemplifying it for us. Then again, making us sit through it is human torture, which is often considered worse by most judicial systems.
There are subplots. Too many, really, for a film like this. It’s not ambition; it’s poor scripting. What good does having Chrystal’s mother going to a party with some guy who dresses as an elf do? None. But that’s okay, because you’re here for the cat. The cat might be the best actor in the movie. I don’t even know anymore if I’m kidding.
It’s trash. Plaza will tell you several times throughout the movie that it’s trash. “Why are you still watching this?” she asks us after one or maybe several commercial breaks. It doesn’t care that it sucks; it often makes fun of itself. Whether it’s poking fun at its stupidity or it’s mockingly using shameless product placement, we’re supposed to, at all times, be aware that this is a big joke. And that joke’s on us. We’re still watching. We are a terrible species.
This type of film is critic-proof, isn’t it? Everyone knows it’s going to suck going in, so any amount of joy it can bring — there are a few laughs, almost all of which comes from Plaza’s dialogue, which I’m guessing was largely improvised — comes as a bonus. If critics pan it, well, that’s what they were supposed to do. Yes, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever sucks, but nobody — including the people who made it — think otherwise. The people who managed to turn a cat into a multi-million dollar enterprise will tune in to watch it anyway.
They say that working with animals is one of the hardest things a director can do, but this film’s director is Tim Hill, the man behind Hop, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the second live-action Garfield film. He’s clearly at home working with them, and to be fair he does manage to get Grumpy Cat to do some things that almost qualify as acting. I don’t know how many takes it took, but the cat never seems disengaged from the rest of the film, and that at least takes some talent. And it’s kind of funny, I guess. There. It’s not a total disaster.
Most of Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever is awful. It has poor acting, a crowded yet simple story, it isn’t particularly funny, and most of the time it’s just dull or stupid. Aubrey Plaza’s voiceover is sometimes funny — largely because it’s primarily meta-commentary on the film and the Grumpy Cat phenomenon as a whole — and the cat doesn’t distract from the proceedings, even if it’s not really on-screen enough, or the main focus of the plot; it’s just the one to draw in viewers. The film should more accurately be called “Girl talks to a cat and saves a dog from a kidnapping around Christmastime.” But you wouldn’t watch that.