I missed the premiere of Lil Bub & Friendz. I'd placed the wrong date in my head, and was pretty bummed when I went to print my tickets. But I still had the chance to catch the world's most adorable cat on the big screen, and wasn't going to miss it. In the end, I'd get to sit front and center with the starlet feline at a massive outdoor screening–part of the festival's Drive-In series–beside the Hudson river in Lower Manhattan.
Occasionally, I'd peek over, lost in the glass of her bulging eyes, which are quite incredible to behold from a side-profile. I don't typically get this stoked about a cat, but that's the power of Bub: Her rags to riches story, her deformed little body, and her ever-hanging tongue spitting forward from an indented jaw of toothlessness. The catlebrity has strange therepeutic powers–that Bub's owner, Mike Bridavsky, addresses in the film–making her quite the irresistible distraction. Sure, I had cats growing up, but to find more than a couple minutes of them in some old family video, I'd be hard pressed. That's the power of Bub's documentary.
In September, the VICE staff was out getting drunk somewhere when Andy Capper and Juliette Eisner pinched me from both sides, pontificating about their vision: "The cat video. A whole movie about...the internet, and cats. Cats on the internet. It's fucking brilliant, isn't it?" I timidly agreed, as if being invited to take shrooms. "Yeah," I said, "I like it," imagining a 40-minute episode of VICE's Cute Show.
Capper and Eisner posted up somewhere in the frontier between obsession and perversion, layering interviews with cat freaks and enthusiasts over a synthy psychedelic soundtrack. In the film, Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, Pudge the Cat, Keyboard Cat, and some lions and tigers spend time hangin' with Bub. As if Best In Show told the real story of cat people, what becomes helpful in this film is how much Bridavsky is not that type. While the tattooed audio engineer has round eyes with that pet-owner-mirror effect, the level of Bub's proliferation has led to anything but a heightening of his ego. He wanders about crowds like an emperor's nurse, toting Bub through her several appearances, unfazed by the crazies:
Bub picked up a time slot on The Today Show,
and on The View, where Whoopi couldn't wait to talk with Bub,
and finally cradled by Robert De Niro, a union instigated earlier this month by a blurb in THR.
Fast forward, and today the Tribeca Film Festival is wrapping up. Down on their knees, some crew is about to roll up the festival's red carpets, each one touched upon by Bub's paw prints. You could argue a cat probably hasn't received this much adoration since the Egyptians built that fucking Sphinx statue. Hell, she ended up in the Times, yesterday. And by an audience vote, the doc bagged Best Feature for Tribeca's Online Festival.
At that waterside screening I attended, Bub had a meet and greet, which an emcee reminded was, "for kids only." Watching the children huddle around and marvel at the complex little tabby, I kept my own eye-bulging to a minimum and reached for my camera: