Sundance premiere 'Cat Person' a cinematic litter box serving cheap 'thrills' – New York Post

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PARK CITY, Utah — The movie “Cat Person,” which premiered Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, should be called “Camp Person.”
Because gone is the deceptively simple, resonant, viral New Yorker short story about the pitfalls of dating in the age of the internet that touched a cultural nerve in 2017, and in its place is a thriller so clownish and ridiculous that early on Isabella Rossellini delivers a dramatic monologue about how a male ant will die after it mates with the colony’s queen. It’s straight outta “Death Becomes Her.”
Running time: 120 minutes. Not yet rated.
Later, the main character is forced by her mother (Hope Davis) to perform a sexualized, creepy song-and-dance rendition of Marilyn Monroe’s “My Heart Belongs To Daddy” for her step father’s 60th birthday.
In the end, blood is shed.  
If all this bombastic clutter had been so clumsily shoved into Kristen Roupenian’s written piece, nobody would have been talking about it. The movie is a cinematic litter box.
Emilia Jones (“CODA”) plays Margot, a 20-year-old college sophomore who meets older, bearded Robert (Nicholas Braun) during her job at a movie theater concessions stand. They flirt, in a lumbering way, he gives her his number and they begin a fun texting repartee. 
The digital banter continues when she returns home for winter break, while the filmmakers clearly try to address angry criticism that the 2017 character’s privilege went unacknowledged by putting her in a luxurious modern manse. There — she’s rich!  
But when millionaire Margot’s back on campus, and she and Robert have their first real date at “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” — which he is obsessed with and she finds boring — the spark is gone in-person. He’s erratic and judgmental, if occasionally sweet, and she keeps picturing him murdering her in jokey “Family Guy” cutaways.
For Robert, romance means the hands-on way Harrison Ford treats Princess Leia in “Star Wars” and Elsa in “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” — another totally belabored character add-on — and that action-star brutishness is evident when they have sex. It’s awkward, crass and porn-y.
From there, a heretofore boring, unsubtle movie completely loses its marbles by attaching an inexplicable ending, which boasts as much universality, nuance and power as “Taken 3.” 
Margot has an out-of-body experience while having cringey sex with Robert; I had an out-of-body experience during the abysmal last 30 minutes of “Cat Person.” It’s the stuff of the worst bargain-bin, violent murder movies.
Even without the laughable new material, the addictive quality of the short story is lost in adaptation from the get-go. Robert, Margot and her Reddit-obsessed roommate Tamara (Geraldine Viswanathan) are all insufferable onscreen. Characters need not be likable, but a part of you then should enjoy disliking them. Not here.
Jones, nonetheless, is well-cast in the part of a woman trying to hide her discomfort with gags and giggles. Braun is right on paper, but brings a bit too much of Cousin Greg’s weirdness to Robert and none of his sparkle. The guy’s red flags are now bigger than the ones at the Olympic opening ceremony. It’s hard to believe Margot would stick around for any of this nonsense.
Director Susanna Fogel is skilled with building the tension that a scary thriller necessitates. But the larger question is whether “Cat Person” should have been turned into a cheapo thriller at all. 


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