"Welcome to Hollywood, a land just off the coast of planet Earth," the
narrator tells us in the "ha ha" funny film THE CAT'S MEOW. In a lame
attempt to channel Robert Altman (GOSFORD PARK), director Peter Bogdanovich
is unable to create any believable or interesting characters, no matter how
much he pumps up the Charleston music aboard William Randolph "WR" Hearst's
luxury liner masquerading as a mere yacht.
With the notable exception of Jennifer Tilly as gossip columnist Louella
Parsons, none of the casting works. The worst is Eddie Izzard, who gives a
lifeless rendition of Charlie Chaplin. Although we are told of Chaplin's
scandalous life, Izzard turns the talented and controversial Chaplin into an
exceedingly bland person. Kirsten Dunst (CRAZY/BEAUTIFUL), one of
Hollywood's most talented young actresses, proves to be all wrong as Marion
Davies, WR's mistress. We never believe the relationship between her and
Edward Herrmann as WR. Jennifer Jason Leigh would have had the right edge
and age for Marion, but Dunst, I'm sorry to say, just comes off as awkward
The story concerns a murder aboard WR's yacht, where a large group of his
friends have come to party. Until the murder occurs at the end, little of
consequence happens. The guests all make polite small talk in public while
backstabbing each other in private. The flappers dance the night away,
having a high old time. I was glad to see someone enjoying themselves since
most audience members probably won't.
"It really is rather dull, isn't it?" Louella Parsons comments at one point.
There is no one better than a gossip columnist to reveal the unvarnished
THE CAT'S MEOW runs 1:50. It is rated PG-13 for "sexuality, a scene of
violence and brief drug use" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes