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Kitty Mammas | Review

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“Wait, you’re literally having your own cat’s baby!”

In documentaries, the point is to examine and present the truth. In mockumentaries, however, the unbelievably absurd is treated like the truth. In the instance of Kitty Mammas, a camera crew follows a literal mad scientist – Dr. Han (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) – as he leads a clinical trial in which four women give birth…to kittens.

Though slightly disgraced from previous endeavours, Dr. Han has been presented the opportunity of being a modern day Frankenstein of sorts. The experiment, made possible by financial backers and desperate participants, lasts over a three month period which sees the cat foetus grow to the size of a kitten with next to no visible bump. Plus, the participants even get to keep the kitten if successful! The diversity in the mothers-to-be ranges from the LGBTQ+ community, undergrad students, middle-aged mothers, and vloggers, but they all want one thing: to give birth to a kitten. This is a common goal like no other.

With the participants’ diverse range of backgrounds comes a diverse range of issues and obstacles which they must endure. The challenges they face range from financial inheritance, online backlash, and acceptance. Running parallel, Dr Kittenstein faces the annoying persistence of Darryl (Drew Nelson), a journalist desperate to expose the grotesque experiment, but also in pursuit of revenge. After the 90-day period, what will be of Sylvia (Janet Porter), Joan (Kathryn Kohut), Maria (Vienna Hehir) and Rose (Morgan Kohan)? New mothers? Human-cat hybrids? 

As a mockumentary, Kitty Mammas exists as both a surreal comedy and a drama which deals with serious issues too. The balance of both is certainly effective in its execution, though the mockumentary style is much more frequent and attempted when dealing with the surrealist nature of the clinical trial. Kitty Mammas almost feels like a hybrid of two movies, but with the same cast. A major issue, however, is that in the mockumentary, extraordinary and out-of-this-world characters and situations are depicted realistically, despite being completely unbelievable and unrealistic. The unbelievable is made believable. In Kitty Mammas, whilst the characters deal with such realistic, relevant, and hard-hitting issues outside of the clinical trial, there is an overwhelming ambiance of the film not feeling one bit real. Kitty Mammas doesn’t even feel like a documentary. 

Of course, there is an excruciating difficulty in making such a wild concept seem at all plausible. Humans giving birth to kittens is just mind boggling. The heart of Kitten Mammas really lies within the social issues explored outside of the medical practice. The four performances of the trialists are all terrific respectively, especially that of Vienna Hehir. Under the screenwriting of Katrina Nicholson, the characters – specifically the trialists – are empowered to really showcase both the power and vulnerability which they possess within. These are strong characters. Strongly written characters. 

Ultimately, from director Dennis Alexander Nicholson, Kitten Mammas can be read as a film with a hidden agenda… The kitten trial stuff is just for show. Essentially, the concept is just the overcoat covering a body which provides a commentary on social issues. This form of trickery is terrific in that it, to some degree, pays off because the issues explored are done really well. Probably the best aspect of the film overall. Though a great exploration of issues, one can’t imagine that much of Kitty Mammma’s audience will be coming for a class on sociology, but instead, they’ll be wanting to see something totally messed up, like the film initially suggests.  

Rating: 2/5

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Comedy

Disney | Cruella – Official Trailer

A live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil.

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Genre:

Comedy, Crime, Family

Release Date:

May 28, 2021

Director:

Craig Gillespie

Cast:

Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Mark Strong, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham

Plot Summary:

A live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil.

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Comedy

Coming 2 America | Trailer 2 – Amazon Prime Video

Akeem learns he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to America to meet the unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda. A sequel to the 1988 comedy ‘Coming to America’.

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Genre:

Comedy, Rom-com

Release Date:

March 5, 2021

Director:

Craig Brewer

Cast:

Eddie Murphy, Shari Headley, James Earl Jones, Arsenio Hall, Leslie Jones, Wesley Snipes, John Amos

Plot Summary:

Akeem learns he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to America to meet the unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda. A sequel to the 1988 comedy ‘Coming to America’.

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Comedy

How It Ends Review | Sundance Film Festival

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We’re now getting to the point where lots of the films that were made during lockdown are starting to be released and How it Ends is a pre-apocalyptic comedy/drama that sounded really good on paper and was one of my most anticipated films for the entire Sundance Film Festival but the finished product is just a complete waste of potential and lacking anything interesting or exciting.

How It Ends is set the day before an asteroid is set to destroy the world and Liza, played by co-writer and co-director Zoe Lister-Jones, is invited to one final wild party before the world ends. But after her car gets stolen and wanting to tie up loose ends she has with family and friends before the apocalypse, she journeys across Los Angeles by foot. She’s not alone though as she’s accompanied by her quirky, metaphysical younger self played by Cailee Spaeny. The two of them tour across the city running into a whole host of familiar faces along the way before the world is set to be destroyed.

The film starts off fairly interesting and it began with a few jokes that I found quite funny and it immediately sets off with this quirky tone and for the first twenty minutes or, so I was quite entertained by it. The film has quite a short runtime of just 82 minutes and so the first quarter of this film was intriguing and set it up to be a really interesting film.

But that’s when it starts to go downhill. Once Liza and her younger self begin their journey across LA it very quickly becomes clear that the rest of the film isn’t going to be anything exciting or entertaining at all. The rest of the film just became a series of socially distanced celebrity cameos. The two lead characters would turn a street corner and bump (not literally) into another familiar face that you might recognise and then proceed to chat to them for a few minutes.

They meet some interesting characters along the way including Olivia Wilde, Helen Hunt and Bradley Whitford who looks like he’s just walked off the set of his other pandemic-made film Songbird. And very quickly, these short snippets get tedious and dull as the majority of the jokes don’t land and it just becomes uneventful when you’ve got the same sort of thing happening over and over again.

On paper this film sounded quite similar to 2013’s This Is the End which actually really surprised me with how good it was but the reason why that film worked and How It Ends doesn’t it because This Is the End was actually a lot of fun and really entertaining. How It Ends had so much potential to make a really fun pre-apocalyptic film with lots of celebrity cameos but instead it just became scene after scene of unfunny encounters with another random actor that you might recognise from a couple of other things.

Whilst it’s impressive that they managed to shoot this entirely during the pandemic, it is very clear that this is the case. Every time the two leads encounter another person they’re always standing a couple of metres apart and sometimes the blocking and framing wasn’t particularly good, probably due to the nature of everyone involved trying to adhere to social distancing rules.

How it Ends had so much potential but it just took all the fun out of the end of the world. It sets itself up to be a really enjoyable and entertaining time but ultimately it doesn’t deliver on any of that and is frankly quite dull to sit through. It’s not the worst film made during the pandemic but it’s definitely not the best.

★★☆☆☆

How it Ends premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres section.

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