Single dad Phil (former child star Johnny Whitaker) sells his computer company so he can retire early to spend more time with his sulky teenage son Chris (Justin Cone) in their big house somewhere on the coast of California. Chris, meanwhile, starts tutoring Frannie (Alison Sieke), a classmate who comes on to him relentlessly even though he’s got no social skills whatsoever. Further down the coast, single mom Susan (former X-rated Alice in Wonderland, Kristine DeBell) struggles to keep her catering company afloat while dealing with her own two teenagers; Tina (Janis Peebles), a smarty-pants who is trying to kick start a business career with some revolutionary web program she’s developing, and Trent (Daniel Dannas), an aimless dude who’s sad that he doesn’t know what to do with his life but is really diligent about fixing things around the house. Into this rich mosaic of American life steps Duffy, a magical cat who can sometimes talk to humans, to bring these restless souls together. This cat is voiced by Eric Roberts.

First of all, yes this is a real movie. It’s directed by “Mary Crawford”, who is actually director David DeCoteau, a filmmaker who has made over 100 movies since 1985, most of which have been super-low-grade horror flicks with titles like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. Only recently has he gotten into the family film business, concentrating mainly on the talking animal sub-genre.

Second of all, yes Eric Roberts rocks as the wise sage cat, even more so because his dialogue sounds like it was recorded over speakerphone from his home as he sipped a tall glass of whiskey. And because we hear Duffy’s inner monologue constantly, there’s a lot of Roberts to go around. He also says “yum, yum, yum…” when Duffy drinks some milk out of bowl, in case you needed more of a reason to see this. The scenes in which Duffy actually converses with the characters are truly something to behold. When Duffy speaks, the screen splits open into a gaping black hole where the cat’s mouth is. It’s the special effect of the century.

The rest of the cast is uniformly terrible… or amazing, depending on your sense of humour. Whitaker plays the most annoying dad in the world, while DeBell appears to be on the verge of snapping and killing everyone at any given moment. The careers of the younger actors will probably start and end here unfortunately, although if they ever make another Dude, Where’s My Car? with a new cast, the dopey Dannas would fit right in.

There’s so much Z-movie gold involved in A Talking Cat!?! that I could write a dissertation about it. But let me just leave you with one last nugget. For a movie that takes place in pretty much only two locations, there are 59 establishing shots, often in places where the scene doesn’t even change. We’ll be in Phil’s haphazardly decorated fortress-like home with some of the characters, and then the film cuts to a long shot of the beach and then an exterior of Phil’s house, and then we’re right back inside Phil’s house again with the same characters. The footage of the surrounding woods, beach, and the outside of the homes takes up roughly a third of the runtime, and it’s all set to a wonderfully incessant synthesizer score from the fine folks at Big Score Music.

Congratulations Mr. DeCoteau… er… Ms. Crawford, you’ve put together something for the ages here.