Rats and Cats


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Rats and Cats is a low-budget indie mockumentary from Australia.

A tabloid journalist is assigned to do a "where are they now" piece about a former star in the Aussie TV and film industry named Darren McWarren. The actor disappeared from the acting scene some years earlier, in the wake of some lurid controversy about his relationships with the wife of his producer and his 15-year-old co-star.

Darren's entire fictional back-story is available at a bogus My Space page. As the film begins, Darren has settled into a small, isolated town on the seacoast in far western Victoria, where he is the local BMOC. The town line is marked by a a billboard that says "Home of Darren McWarren." His rock band packs in the local club, and all the single girls in town want to sample his lovin'. He also competes in local boxing competitions (incompetently), drives a local hooker to her assignations, and pays the bills by running a string of "lucky claw" vending machines.

The film takes a lot of comic swipes at the Aussie film industry and its stars. If you noticed that the rock band and the boxing make Darren quite similar to Russell Crowe, you're probably not the only one to draw that inference, although Crowe was obviously only one of many who inspired parts of the Darren character.

Rats and Cats has just about the most laid-back pace of any film I've ever seen. The two lead actors deliver every line in the deadpan manner of people who ask and answer questions without caring about the response of the other person in the conversation, and without passing any judgment on the actions described. Nobody ever seems to get excited about anything.

Well, maybe Darren gets a little bit excited about death. But only a little. As an example of the film's dark humor, Darren has a sex scene toward the end of the film in which he feels guilty because (1) he never realized that he was with the wrong girl; (2) he didn't notice that she died in the middle of the act. In fact, he complimented her performance! (Turns out he was wrong about her death, but she did pass out and had to be rushed to the hospital.)

The cinematography and direction are quite effective in catching the mood and look of a forlorn, decaying seacoast town, and the performing is natural enough to convince one that the story really is a documentary. The script supports the performers' efforts in that regard, which is not surprising since the lead actors are also the co-authors, deriving the character-based humor from natural performing styles in situations which are almost, but not quite, realistic. The film can be very funny in spots, especially if you like the sort of humor created by false sincerity, but the monotony and the complete lack of energy made it a tough watch for me at its current running time. If it had been my call, I would have cut it to an hour and run it on TV as a documentary without telling people it was all fictional, just to see how audiences reacted. I think the humor is subtle enough that plenty of viewers would have bought it hook, line, and sinker. If it were judiciously edited and run on HBO in the States, where nobody knows anything about the Aussie TV industry, I would be willing to bet that 75% of the audience would think it is a real documentary, especially with a promo campaign to support that idea. And it's just far enough off-kilter to attain minor cult status.

At its existing running length, it runs out of gas towards the end, but achieves partial redemption with a pretty cool ending in which Darren disappears again ... or does he? ... in the manner of Eddie and the Cruisers.

DVD info not yet available.



  No major reviews online.


4.7 IMDB summary (of 10)
  It is underrated, in my opinion.





Australia: unknown. No theatrical release in North America.




The female nudity comes from Alexis Porter and Jess Beazley, who played two of Darren's local groupies.

Jason Gann, as the legendary Darren McWarren himself, provided full-frontal male nudity.



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Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is a funny movie in spots, but I tired of its monotony.