That Darn Cat (1997 film)

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That Darn Cat!
That darn catmp.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Bob Spiers
Produced by Robert Simonds
Screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Story by Gordon Gordon
Mildred Gordon

Bill Walsh (1965 screenplay)
Based on Undercover Cat 
by Gordon Gordon
Mildred Gordon
Starring Christina Ricci
Doug E. Doug
Dean Jones
Peter Boyle
Megan Cavanagh
Bess Armstrong
Michael McKean
John Ratzenberger
Dyan Cannon
Rebecca Schull
Music by Richard Kendall Gibbs
Cinematography Jerzy Zielinski
Edited by Roger Barton
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • February 14, 1997 (1997-02-14)
Running time
86 minutes [2]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $18.3 million[3]

That Darn Cat is a 1997 mystery comedy film starring Christina Ricci and Doug E. Doug. It is a remake of the 1965 film That Darn Cat!, which in turn was based on the book Undercover Cat by Gordon and Mildred Gordon. It is directed by British TV veteran Bob Spiers (most famous for Fawlty Towers, as well as Spice World) and written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, best known for Ed Wood and the first two Problem Child films.


A pair of bumbling kidnappers break into the house of the president with the intention of kidnapping his wife and holding her for ransom. Things don't go according to plan when they mistakenly kidnap house maid Lizzie instead.

Patti Randal is a bored and angry teen who is sick of her quiet and boring town of Edgefield. She wishes for more adventure and excitement to come to her boring town. She gets her wish when her pet cat DC walks into the kidnappers hideout during his nightly prowl where Lizzie gives him a watch with HELL scribbled on it. She intended to fully write "HELP" on it, but had to nix on finishing and quickly put it on DC in such way to avoid being caught when the kidnapper's phone rings near her.

Patti sees the watch the next morning and immediately puts it together that the watch was from Lizzie and was meant to say HELP. Nobody believes Patti, causing her to doctor the evidence by turning the last L on the watch into a P. She goes to Boston and pleads her case to Agent Zeke Kelso at the FBI and he believes her.

Zeke's captain allows Zeke and his agent to tail DC during his prowl in hopes of being led to the kidnappers and Lizzie. The operation goes nowhere, causing Zeke to be taken off the case. Zeke and Patti continue investigating anyway, which leads to nothing but dead ends and eventually ends with them being arrested. Patti's manipulation of the watch evidence gets exposed shortly thereafter.

Patti is punished by her parents for her actions. She is so distraught she decides to run away and leave town. Through having met someone at the train station who is leaving for the same reasons as her, and through a personal conversation, she eventually comes to her senses and decides not to board the next train out of town. Patti sees DC digging through the town garden on her walk back from the train station. DC takes off and Patti chases him, where he leads her to the kidnappers hideout where they find Lizzie bound and gagged with duct tape.

Patti calls Zeke to let him know she has found Lizzie but Zeke, still upset with Patti doesn't want to hear it. This causes Patti and DC to enter the kidnappers hideout. Patti attempts to rescue Lizzie, but she fails and in the process gets herself and DC captured as the kidnappers show up and surprise her.

Zeke decides to re-open the case after he gets a call from Patti's parents asking if he has seen her since she went missing. Zeke investigates and follows a trail that leads him to the kidnappers where he finds Lizzie, Patti, and DC bound and gagged (Lizzie and Patti tied to chairs with their mouths duct taped, while DC sat in a litter box trapped inside a burlap sack with black cloth over his eyes).

Zeke exposes the identities of the kidnappers as the seemingly harmless Ma and Pa. He manages to free Patti and DC while Ma and Pa escape with Lizzie in their possession. A final chase ensues as Zeke, Patti, and DC attempt to catch Ma and Pa and rescue Lizzie.



The film was shot in three main locations: Edgefield, South Carolina; Augusta, Georgia and Aiken, South Carolina. Animal Makers created the animatronic version of the cat. It was filmed using a 35mm camera for both the coloured moving and black and white still pictures. The aspect ratio of the film was 1.85/1. The Title sequences were produced by Pacific Titles & Optical.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment distributed the video in most regions, while Abril Vídeo covered Brazil.


Box Office[edit]

The film earned $6,424,617 in its opening weekend and in total grossed $18,301,610 domestically.[4]


That Darn Cat received generally negative reviews, currently holding a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes amongst critics and 28% amongst audiences.[5] Stephen Holden of the New York Times was not impressed, remarking, 'The opening scenes in That Darn Cat suggest that the movie might have found a gently sarcastic attitude in tune with the know-it-all mood of the late 1990s... Unfortunately, it isn't long before this wised-up tone gives way to a desperate, mindless freneticism that leaves Ms. Ricci mired in her sulk.'[6]

Joe Leydon of Variety said 'It’s not quite a catastrophe, but the updated remake of “That Darn cat” is a loud and largely charmless trifle.'[7] James Berardinelli of Reelviews was a little more lenient, stating '(the film) is a little more quirky than many Disney films, although that trait doesn't make it appreciably more watchable.'[8]


The film, in spite of the poor reception, earned Ricci two award nominations; the first was a Kids Choice Award for "Favorite Movie Actress" and the second was a Young Artist Award - "Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Actress".


External links[edit]