By Josh Axelrod
Show of hands: Who here has ever read a Grumpy Cat meme in Aubrey Plaza’s voice? Just me? Fine, make me feel weird.
Plaza’s “Parks and Recreation” character April Ludgate is the human incarnation of grumpy. She revels in schadenfreude and tends to take every situation and make it dark and depressing. That type of thing gets her up in the morning. The woman is hilariously morose and has one of the best deadpan monotones I’ve ever seen.
April and Grumpy Cat aren’t so different. They’re both female, hate most things and need to pay for Fancy Feast somehow. Some smart studio executive must have been watching “Parks and Recreation” one day and thought, This girl could play Grumpy Cat in her sleep. I must have her! And thus, the world was graced with Plaza’s vocal performance of Grumpy Cat in the Lifetime original movie “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.”
Plaza described the movie on Jimmy Kimmel’s show as “one of the most insane things I’ve ever seen.” That description isn’t too far from the truth. This movie is meta enough to make Abed from “Community” proud. Grumpy breaks the fourth wall a lot, even asking on multiple occasions why anyone would be watching her movie. At one point, she even tells the audience to tweet about her movie with the hashtags #worstchristmasever and #whyamiwatchingthis.
Let’s just take a moment and realize how amazing it is that this movie exists. Grumpy Cat was an Internet meme whose popularity spawned insane amounts of merchandise, commercials and now her own movie. This is difficult enough for a human to pull off, but we’re dealing with the world’s most famous cat who, according to Plaza, has a bigger entourage than an American sitcom star. This is where we are at as a society, for better or worse.
Back to the movie. Honestly, Grumpy Cat herself aside, it’s pretty terrible. Like, the basic plot is just “Home Alone” in a mall with more animals and bad guys who aren’t remotely threatening or funny. There’s a lonely 12-year-old girl who wishes for a best friend who understands her, and the universe gives her…Grumpy Cat. If I were that little girl, I’d be profoundly depressed at the revelation that no one gets me like Grumpy Cat.
Anyway, that girl tries to bond with Grumpy Cat after the mall closes, because why not. She witnesses the two awful kidnappers steal a million-dollar dog (which Grumpy correctly describes as “a Macguffin, whatever that means”) from a mall pet store. It’s up to her to stop the two thieves while Grumpy complains the whole time and sort of bonds with the girl. Oh, and there are other talking animals who Grumpy Cat hates. Don’t think more about the plot or you’ll get grumpy.
The only reason to watch this movie is for Plaza’s Grumpy Cat. No one else could have brought Grumpy to life, and Plaza April Ludgates her way through her performance as the world’s biggest sourpuss (cat jokes!). When the little girl tells Grumpy that she wished for a best friend and got the ability to talk to a cat, Grumpy replied, “I’m embarrassed for you. You’re a loser.” It’s funny because she’s a.) right and b.) hilariously mean beyond mean.
Grumpy pops up during just about every scene to add her own grumpy take on the proceedings. Sometimes she’ll even play out entire scenes to show an easier solution to a problem, only to rewind and start over from the last rational point. She also tries hard to sell Grumpy Cat merchandise in a so-in-your-face-it’s-funny kind of way.
Parents, be warned that this movie is more adult than you think it will be. There are some jokes that are decidedly PG-13. There’s one dream sequence that ends in Grumpy at a pound being euthanized that wasn’t so much darkly comical as “KIDS COVER YOUR EYES! EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE OKAY!”
Frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed this awful movie. Don’t let the grumpy cats over at Entertainment Weekly dissuade you from checking out what is sure to become a stoner holiday classic. Just ignore all the humans and focus on Grumpy Cat in all her sardonic glory. She’ll win you over just like she did when you first saw her online.