Starring: John Larroquette, Kirstie Alley
Directed by: Tom Ropelewski
Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains some spoilers for this film!
Synopsis: Mark and Jessie Bannister (John Larroquette and Kirstie Alley) are a happy couple until houseguests descend upon them and turn their lives upside down.
Featured Feline: A cartoon cat is shown causing havoc during the opening credits (animated by Sally Cruikshank).
The first couple to arrive at the Bannister household is Cousin Fred (John Diehl) and his wife Bernice (Jessica Lundy) and they bring with them a long-haired gray cat named Scruffy Bannister. Scruffy arrives in a carrier on the luggage carousel and when he is introduced to Mark and Jessie he reaches through the mesh of the cage and scratches at Jessie, leaving her sleeve in tatters.
Things get worse on the drive home when Bernice takes Scruffy out of his carrier in the car and notes he doesn’t look to well. Moments later the cat is throwing up all over everyone. This is achieved with a fake cat puppet spewing crap. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie.
When they arrive at the house, Bernice sets Scruffy down and Jessie goes to clean up. Scruffy eyes the Bannister’s fish tank.
On Day Two Scruffy enters the room where Mark is sleeping (having lost the bedroom to the guests). Scruffy jumps over him and plays with the cord of a lamp, bringing it down on Mark’s head. Mark chases Scruffy through the house but the cat eludes him.
Kitty Carnage Warning Number One! On Day Four Bernice screams as she spots Scruffy drowned in the fish tank with a fish in his mouth. A funeral is held and the cat is buried in the back yard.
Later that night Jessie hears some noises in the kitchen. When she goes down the window screen has been broken, there are shattered potted plants in the sink and, lo and behold, Scruffy jumps down from a cabinet! The cat is not dead! Bernice comes down and sees the cat and hugs him, apologizing for burying him alive.
Kitty Carnage Warning Number Two! On Day Five Jessie’s nephew Jonathan (Bradley Gregg) arrives and accidentally runs over Scruffy. Another funeral and on Day 10 Scruffy comes back again, this time stringing yarn all around Jessie.
That night the guests (which are growing in number to include Jessie’s sister and the neighboring family whose house was burned down) are having dinner. The neighbor’s son, a juvenile delinquent named C.K. (Aeryk Egan) sees Scruffy on the table and asks if they got a new cat. When told Scruffy came back from the dead, C.K. becomes obsessed with killing the cat and burying it himself.
Kitty Carnage Warning Number Three! On Day 27, C.K. places a firecracker under Scruffy’s food bowl while Scruffy is eating. The cat is blown up (not seen directly on screen) and buried for a third time. Moments later the cat is running away from the grave and C.K. takes chase with a baseball bat.
Kitty Carnage Warning Number Four! On Day 49 C.K. tries to stuff Scruffy into a microwave oven. Fortunately the cat manages to get away.
Kitty Carnage Warning Number Five! Later that night, Mark is trying to hide a package containing cocaine which Jonathan has been receiving through his office. The police arrive at the house on another matter and while Mark is talking to the police Scruffy finds the box and tears a little hole from the bottom, sniffing and licking up the spilled cocaine.
Moments later the police are shocked to see Scruffy racing around madly in circles before keeling over dead yet again. This is all achieved by the use of a fake cat. They tag and bag Scruffy and take him to police headquarters.
On the final day when Fred and Bernice are finally leaving, Scruffy suddenly appears still wearing the police tag. Bernice greets Scruffy with open arms but the cat passes her and jumps into the arms of Jessie.
When Bernice tries to take Scruffy, he scratches at her and tatters her sleeve. He has made his choice to stay with Mark and Jessie. Mark figures the cat has five lives left and is welcome to spend it with them.
Scruffy the cat is such a notable character in the film that he is seen on the movie’s posters. Cathy McCallum was the cat trainer with Jackie Martin (Kaptan) as lead trainer for Animal Rentals. Yes, it’s another example of violence against cats being the basis of comedy (a not uncommon practice around this time) but at least the humor is meant to be broad and in the end Scruffy does survive!
Final Mewsings: Cats are resilient!
Many thanks to Nick Wale for letting us know about the cat in this movie.