10 Things I Learned From ‘That Darn Cat’

Fall is finally upon us, which means absolutely nothing until the first day you complain about it being too cold. THAT, my friends, is when fall has arrived.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY NEXT TOPIC (she yelled, for absolutely no reason whatsoever). Despite That Darn Cat not being released until winter 1997, I got majorly into it one autumn when I was sick. Soon, I was sick of not owning That Darn Cat, so I rented it almost every weekend for something crazy like two months.

But whatever! Christina Ricci! Doug E. Doug! Peter Boyle! A CAT with—according to the Wikipedia synopsis—a watch on its neck! That Darn Cat is arguably one of the best and most underrated movies to ever exist and I am going to tell you why. Also, I am going to tell you what I learned. Let’s do this!

1. Cats are the superior movie animal

I mean, here’s the thing about cats: they don’t care. Not about anything and CERTAINLY not about starring in a major motion picture, which makes the idea that they’re “complying” even better. Case in point: every time you see a cat in a movie, they are choosing to be there. No one is in charge of them. They are doing everyone a favor simply by existing. In the case of That Darn Cat THAT cat was just bored the day he showed up for the audition. And the rest was history, beautiful history.

2. Our greatest works of art are not appreciated in our time

You might be sitting there thinking, Why are you talking about this movie? I never even saw it. And if that’s the case, then how dare you. Also: why? Also (again): go watch it now. I WILL WAIT FOR YOU. But alas, you wouldn’t be alone: no one appreciated Van Gogh in his day. That Darn Cat is a true Van Gogh. (Not a Monet, which we all know up close is a big ol’ mess.)

3. Everyone always wants to be Christina Ricci in movies

But especially me and ESPECIALLY between the years 1994 and 1997 when I still equated her with Now and Then and Casper. And can you blame me? Even in this movie, she is the epitome of true coolness because she has 1997-era SHORT HAIR (aka hair SOME OF US couldn’t have in 1997 because we didn’t know how to style it). Basically, anyone who grew up in the ’90s wants to be both Gaby Hoffmann and Christina Ricci, and the only way this movie could get better would be if Gaby Hoffmann was also in it, obviously.

4. When poster art lies, it hurts us all

Because I rented this movie expecting to see this:

And I got this:

And I mean, that cat is legitimately adorable and I want to pet its tiny face, but obviously he isn’t wearing sunglasses and Christina Ricci looks exactly as annoyed as I was (am).

5. This Disney movie is proof that ’90s clothes are superior to all others

I’m not just saying this because I bought a mini backpack the other day I SWEAR, but hey: let’s just applaud Christina Ricci’s mini backpack, shall we? Also, her coat, and what I assume are also Docs because why wouldn’t she be wearing Docs? Christina Ricci seems like somebody who should always be wearing Docs. And the thing is, you completely agree, I KNOW IT, you don’t even need to say anything (though, please confirm that you think I’m correct as soon as you can).

6. SPOILER ALERT: That Darn Cat is the only animal movie that won’t make you cry

Much like when I thought the old man was going to die in The Holiday, I spent my first screening of That Darn Cat convinced the darn cat in question was going to die. NEGATIVE! Not only does this cat live, it THRIVES, solving the mystery of where the maid was taken after being kidnapped at the beginning of the film. I mean, you might cry tears of joy, MAYBE. But this isn’t Homeward Bound or even Air Bud—this movie is joyous. Like, it’s about a cat solving mysteries. I honestly wish every movie ever made was about that. I would buy them all. (Looks for That Darn Cat on Amazon as she types.) (Pretends she’s joking—is not.)

7. Only one cat in the world will EVER let you hold it and carry it around

And it is the cat starring in this movie. Trust me, as someone who’s got a cat named Barry Gibb and who is only “allowed” (as per his refusal to let me hold him any other time) to hold him in the morning. One time I tried to hold him on the way to the vet and I had to wrap him in a scarf like a baby because he tried to run away. The other day, I was petting him and somebody came to the door and he scratched me. This afternoon, he was sleeping in a shoebox and I pet him and he tried to bite me. HE is a “darn cat.” The cat in this movie is magic because no other cat would allow this kind of holding, I promise you.

Like, this woman KNOWS. Look at her face. That is the face of a woman knows what Christina Ricci is risking here. (An escape of feline proportions.)

8. Seriously though: the ’90s were amazing for writing interesting, rebellious teen characters

And I say this because Christina Ricci’s character—who I should tell you is named Patti—is NOT DOWN with Edgetown, where she and her family have moved. So at one point, her mom says, “Why do you always wear black?” and Christina Ricci answers, “Because it matches my soul.” And DAMN. Yup! That is the correct response, according to me, who would’ve been grounded for YEARS if I had answered in a similar fashion.

I mean, obviously That Darn Cat isn’t a coming-of-age film, but it IS a movie about a girl finding out what she’s interested in and who she is while following her cat, who is solving mysteries. That’s OK to me. Basically, what I’m saying is that if Daria would be friends with your movie character, you’re doing fine. And Daria would TOTALLY help your cat find out who kidnapped a maid.

9. If your police force is competent, your town’s DIY detectives won’t thrive

And I say this because Doug E. Doug and Christina Ricci are OBVIOUSLY not taken seriously when trying to follow the clues as to why Patti’s cat has “HELL” scratched into its collar. And hey—maybe most other police forces wouldn’t care, either. But if they DID, then do you know what we’d have? Nothing. Like, maybe a Saturday afternoon. CERTAINLY not a film about a woman, her affinity for ’90s post-grunge wear, and a cat. Certainly no Doug E. Doug, either. Terrible police forces (and corrupt towns) are EXACTLY what we need for all movies (ever).

10. If I found “hell” scratched into my cat’s collar though, I would absolutely move

And I know Patti doesn’t have that choice because she lives as a teenager, with her parents. But I am telling you all that if for some reason my cat got out and then for some reason it had a collar and for some reason it came back and someone had scratched “HELL” into that collar, I would assume we were cursed and that our best bet was to move as far away as possible.

My cat’s actually looking outside now. I’m taking it as a sign. It’s time to try and hold him.

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