Published Apr 09, 2013Anyone that has been on the Internet has seen them: cat photos accompanied by captions intended to personify the feline in an attempt to create humour. Keyboard Cat, Nyan Cat and Grumpy Cat are just some of the popular characters seen all over the World Wide Web.
Lil Bub & Friendz examines and analyzes the fascination with these "meme cats," focusing chiefly on the titular Lil Bub, a visual embodiment of the Web's fascination with all things cat-related. Examining the rise of "Internet cat stars"—believe it or not, that's an actual thing—Lil Bub and her owner, Mike Bridavsky, embark on a trip as they encounter the media, fans and some of her fellow feline celebrities, crowned by a visit to the Minneapolis Internet Cat Video Festival.
Lil Bub, a wide-eyed, alien-looking cat—in fact, the doc is framed by a video suggesting that Bub is an omniscient being from another planet—suffered from genetic abnormalities at birth. Toothless and with only a partially formed jaw, her tongue sticks out perpetually. She also has curved bones that prevent her from walking normally, leading her to crawl around or cling to her owner's shoulder or arms as a primary means of transportation. Bridavsky found out about the cat in his home state of Indiana and instantly fell in love with her, bringing her home to live with him.
Recognizing that Lil Bub certainly doesn't look like most cats, he posted a photo to Reddit leading the critter to instant Internet fame.
Being a Vice.com feature, the limited production value gives an underground, pseudo-amateurish vibe that occasionally feels like spliced YouTube footage heightened by applied sarcasm. The "experts" (read: people that loves cats and obsess over them on the Internet) pop up, pointing out that while dog lovers can bond with other owners at dog parks, cat lovers are relegated to the internet for performance of their shared interest.
Lil Bub & Friendz also features interviews with the owners of the other Internet cats, a self-proclaimed "Meme Manager," and a dude wearing one of the worst Cat t-shirts known to mankind who labels himself as a Sociologist. It's easier to mock than understand or appreciate, which explains the tonal vacillation between flippancy and sincerity.
And while much of the film flitters between these perspectives on comedic cat-related moments and cutesy photographs, there's at least something to be said about Bridavsky's love for his physically challenged pet and the joy it has brought to millions the world over. The resultant message is one of inspiration and positivity in the face of adversity. (Vice Films)