Rats and Cats (2007)

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Released 8-Oct-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Audio Commentary-Director,Producer and Cast
Featurette-Making Of-(12.21)
Deleted Scenes-(x7)
Music Video-Black Diamond Live (10.38)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.41)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 89:00 (Case: 99)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tony Rogers
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jason Gann
Adam Zwar
Anya Beyersdorf
Paul Denny
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Sam Mallet


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Rats and Cats is an Australian mockumentary of sorts written by Adam Zwar and Jason Gann and directed by Tony Rogers.

Many will remember this combination from the cult show Wilfred where Gann played a dog who was perhaps overly protective of his owner and openly hostile to her new boyfriend played by Zwar. The show was as quirky as it gets with a dark seam running through the comedy.

To some extent Rats and Cats mines the same vein. Gann is once again the troubled, difficult character and Zwar the genuine, sensitive guy who has stepped well beyond his comfort zone. The similarities, small though they be, are perhaps no suprise as the pair are dab hands at nailing these character types and Rats and Cats is a well acted piece of meta-fiction.

Journalist Ben Zwar is doing a "Where are they now?" feature on actor Darren McWarren (Gann). McWarren was at the top of his game a few years ago, starring on soaps and straight, critically respected drama, before his world collapsed. Indiscretions and controversy tipped him over the edge and he escaped to Western Victoria. Hunting him down is not difficult but getting him to agree to do an interview isn't so easy. Ben is firstly required to meet with McWarren's representative and the following exchange takes place:

If that humour tickles your fancy then Rats and Cats has it in spades. McWarren is a loveable loser, actually a barely lovable loser, and the film becomes more gritty and morose as it goes on. There is not a trace of broad Aussie comedy here and the appeal of the film really lies with those who like it dark.

Having made his way to the seaside town Ben finds Darren to be the local hero. His band Black Diamond helps him pull the chicks and he even entered a local boxing tournament, with predictable results, to show the townspeople that underneath the godliness he is just "one of them".

In fact, he is more than a local. He has slipped below the radar and earns money from novelty machines and presides over a dilapidated house and a green pool. The tagline for the film is "Never meet your heroes", reflecting the admiration that Ben has for Darren - an admiration shaken by the real life realisation that Darren is barely functioning in his retirement, pimping his girlfriend to avoid closeness.

The scripting by the duo is clipped and full of chuckles if not laughs. The acting is good throughout and Gann and Zwar know how to take their characters to the extreme. Paul Denny is a treat as Bruce, Darren's "manservant" who acts as his dresser and gofer - including one scene where he slides undies up the legs of the full frontal naked Darren! Darren is a lost man without his fame and the journey of this largely plotless film is to see whether he can find some form of redemption. If the film has problems it is that the filmmakers can't really decide whether they want to make a drama or a comedy and the result may not be enough of either to satisfy audiences.

Rats and Cats had a limited release and this DVD gives fans of the deadpan style of humour of Zwar and McGann the chance to get their fill.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Rats and Cats was filmed on digital video (Sony 900 HD Camera with 35mm lenses according to the Making of featurette)and has been brought to DVD at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The film was a low budget look at marginal Australia. It is perhaps no surprise then that the image quality looks better on a small screen that a large one. The chief issue is digital noise which is noticeable throughout. I doubt that this will be a big issue for the fanbase as the whole effect of the video quality is to precisely convey the drab and dreary surrounds of the Kingdom of Darren.

The colours are fine and stable, albeit muted, and there are no technical problems with the transfer that I could detect. The image is reasonably sharp.

There is no aliasing or edge enhancement that I could see.

There are no subtitles.

Overall, a transfer entirely consistent with the subject matter.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Rats and Cats has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 224 Kb/s. This is perfectly fine for the dialogue sections of this film and helps convey the on-the-fly style of the subject. Whether fans want more grunt (30 Odd Feet perhaps?) in the pub rock scenes is a matter of personal taste.

The music is by Sam Mallet who also worked on Wilfred. The score is angular and spiky and suits better the more weird and wild parts of the film. It does have an unsettling effect and prevents us as viewers at times from getting close to the characters.

There are no technical problems with the sound. Dialogue can be heard clearly and audio sync is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

There are a number of extras on the DVD.

Deleted Scenes

There are 7 deleted scenes on offer. All, with the exception of the last, "Driving", are pretty short. The vision is OK but the sound is pretty raw. All the scenes were probably cut for pacing although I did like the one of Bruce explaining the mystic power of the whipper snipper to a suprisingly interested girl. The lengthy scene is really just a seemingly improvised driving segment with the actors riffing on a variety of subjects.

Featurette-Making Of

The Making of featurette is a little brief and haphazard to truly explain the process of putting the film together. Fans will need to turn to the commentary track to gain real insight into the background to the film. The featurette has interviews with the director, key cast and some of the production team.

Audio Commentary

The commentary track features actors Zwar and Gann, director Rogers and producer Jason Byrne. The track is funnier than the movie and provides a great insight into how a bunch of mates can put together a feature film. There is a wealth of information on offer here (and when it comes to the gastro stories perhaps too much information!). The only drawback for the serious commentary listener is that they joke around so much that it can be hard to tell the jokes from the truth. The team are happy to point out all the continuity errors - some due to the fact that shooting in Darren's mansion actually comprised a number of locations.

An enjoyable listen.

Music Video - Black Diamond Live

This is the extended concert sequence from the film. Those who liked the songs, including Darrens spoken word stuff, will get a buzz out of this material.

Theatrical Trailer

The theatrical trailer is a pretty good hook for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

 The DVD is marked Region 4. It is not available in other Regions as yet.

Summary

   Rats and Cats is a darkly funny tale of redemption of sorts. Those who like their comedies brooding and dark , perhaps Jarmusch fans, will get the most out of this.

The DVD transfer is fine and perfectly suits the subject matter.

The extras, particularly the commentary track are an useful addition to the package and give viewers another chance to experience the humour of the leads.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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