An insufferable advert disguised as a documentary designed to promote cat owners who don’t deserve their animals.
If #cats_The_Mewvie (hereafter just Cats The Mewvie, since I cannot physically bring myself to type that awful formatting more than once) were better, I might forgive its horrendous title. I might even forgive its pun-filled synopsis – “Pawsome”, really? – though that’s something of a stretch. But unfortunately, Michael Margolis’s feature-length documentary is abysmal. The title is perhaps the least annoying thing about it.
The internet is, and virtually always has been, rife with cat videos; a phenomenon that Cats the Mewvie traces from its infancy right up to the present proliferation of felines on social media – and on one platform in particular, which is so repeatedly and obviously mentioned that you can scarcely believe money hasn’t changed hands at some point. It’s easy to understand, since everyone loves cats, and memes, and viral videos, and some combination of the above is sure to delight a wide audience – unlike Cats the Mewvie, which provides significantly less illumination on the subject than a cursory Google or YouTube search would, and is a far cry from Netflix’s other recent cat-based documentary, Don’t F*ck With Cats.
I have no idea whose idea it was to combine a documentary film about cats with insufferable Instagram influencer culture, though I suppose the crossover market can’t be ignored. In this case, though, the idea that Cats the Mewvie is a fact-based film seems like obfuscation to lure people into an advert. Very few of the genuine cat-based sensations of the internet’s infancy until the present day are actually featured here, the runtime instead occupied by try-hard cat owners trying to leverage their pets to social media stardom.
There are hints here and there in #cats_The_Mewvie of a different, much more worthwhile documentary, but the brazen cynicism of the advertising for self-obsessed owners and their long-suffering animals is too much of a turn-off for me and I imagine anyone with a genuine affection for cats – or indeed animals in general, none of which stand to benefit from being the plaything of a so-called “influencer” whose only measurable cultural impact is convincing you to close Netflix faster than you ever have before.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.