Surprisingly, not the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen. But it’s up there.
When my girlfriend and her brother told me about this movie, they both told me how bizarre this movie was. It was a movie they watched a lot as kids and they had wanted to see if it held up today. So I sat and watched a movie where a boy and a girl were taken to the cat world in order to rescue their dog who is wrecking havoc. And the first thing that came to my mind to describe this movie is absolutely bizarre.
There are a lot of strange movies in cinema. Movies that defy logic, or perhaps, movies that rely on logic outside the norm. Catnapped! is a film that rely’s on children’s logic. Watching this film, I wonder if this was based on a game that someone’s children played one time. A game where they were transported to a world of cats that is balanced on the back of a sleeping cat. A world where the sun is fired from a cannon into the sky. Where time is told by how many grains are left in an hourglass. Where if someone from the human world is touched by the sun in the cat world twice, they are transformed into monsters. A world where their queen is a spoiled witch who turns other cats into balloons when she touches them. And after awhile, all of it made sense.
The first thing that struck me was how good the animation was. Everything flowed together in a style reminiscent of Akira (Director Takashi Nakamura was the Animation Director for Akira). The movement was all detailed and intricate, and everything seemed to just flow together. Everything seemed to belong in the same world, even the parts that seemed crazy and whimsical.
The next thing that struck me about the film was how likable the main characters were. Toriyasu, the brother, reminded me so much of other boys his age who were trying hard to fit in and cast off the things that made them happy to do so. I thought Meeko, the sister, would annoy me at first, but I found her determination endearing and she became my favorite character.
The amazing thing I found about Catnapped! is how intricately everything fit together. Every character has a backstory that explains why they are the way they are. Buburina (yes that’s her name) could have been a one note villain but she is given a backstory that explains her personality and her curse. Toriyasu is given time to explore why he acts the way he does. And it all makes for a pretty solid film.
Catnapped! could have been a bizarre and surreal film that could have been only been about random images strewn together. Instead, it’s a surreal film that runs on very good world-building and where everything comes together. While the film is simple, there is a power in that simplicity. It’s a children’s movie that actually does have something to say and does a very good job in saying it.