The cute cat effect is there, but the tragedy of Lil Bub’s condition, the lack of a well constructed narrative, and the inclusion of some weakly related side stories keep “Lil Bub & Friendz” from being as fun and poignant as it could have been.
For those who aren’t in-the-know, Lil Bub is the ultimate Internet cat celebrity. One day a video of Bub popped up on YouTube, showing her stalking and then pouncing on the camera. Soon thereafter, the views started pouring in and then in came the Lil Bub blog, Facebook page, merchandise, and more. However, while we were all fussing over and admiring Bub’s unusually adorable mug, she and her owner, Mike Bridavsky, had to pay very close attention to the condition that made Bub who she is – a number of genetic mutations that left Bub with dwarfism, polydactylism and deformed lower jaw.
While “Lil Bub & Friendz” does cover every angle, exploring the evolution of the Internet celebrity, the appeal of cats specifically, Bub’s fan base, Mike’s personal connection to Bub, and more, co-directors Juliette Eisner and Andy Capper have a tough time creating much momentum because they don’t seem to know what to do with the material they have. For instance, if you’re making a film about a cute cat that went viral, you’re basically handed an opening hook. However, rather than show what makes Bub worthy of such fame, we get this strange presentation of Bub on a tacky alien spaceship set, jokingly yet oddly suggesting the cat is so bizarre, she’s otherworldly. Perhaps it could have worked had it been funny, but it comes across more like the uncomfortable situation when you’re stuck watching a pet prance around in a costume who very clearly doesn’t appreciate being dressed up. Plus, even worse, the opening also alienates viewers who aren’t already familiar with Bub.
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