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Tom Tangney

SIFF stereotypes challenged with cat-studded 'Lil Bub & Friendz'

Lots of people think the Seattle International Film Festival is for snooty film buffs who only like slow-moving movies full of dread and subtitles. But over the weekend, SIFF should have put that reputation to rest once and for all with the premiere of "Lil Bub and Friendz."

That's right. On the prestigious Saturday night of SIFF's closing weekend, the Festival screened a last minute booking, - a movie about some dang internet cat sensation. And of course the Uptown theatre was packed.

Cats of course have been the scourge, I mean delight, of the internet since practically the beginning. Cats with yarn, cats with bags, cats with boxes, cats with dogs and babies, cats with other cats. There's practically nothing they do that isn't too cute for words.

But ever since photos of Lil Bub were posted on Tumblr and featured on the social news site Reddit 18 months ago, she's been the top internet cat celebrity ... with almost 150,000 likes on Facebook and now a feature film.

What makes Lil Bub so exceptionally cute? She has abnormally large eyes, of course, but what makes her stand out most is her almost permanently stuck-out little red tongue. That feature is actually the product of a deformity. Her lower jaw is so short that the tongue has nowhere to go but hang down. She also has twisted leg bones that makes her waddle more than walk.

She may have all sorts of medical conditions and will face challenges throughout her life but for the moment they all add up to the cutest thing on four legs.

As for the movie, it starts off with a fantasy sci-fi sequence with Lil Bub taking off in a makeshift flying saucer.

Lil Bub also makes a funny detour into a "Cat Hell" and an even better visit to a "Cat Heaven" full of bottles dripping streams of cream and milk.

But mostly the film is a documentary about Lil Bub and her devoted owner Mike Bridavsky who tends to her every need and does what he can to foster her national popularity. Her fans are legion and we see their obsession in action too whenever Lil Bub makes personal appearances. Bridavsky cashes in with Lil Bub merchandise (mostly t-shirts.) He even celebrates with a Lil Bub tattoo.

Other internet celebrity cats put in an appearance in the film. After all, it's called "Lil Bub and Friendz," so we see or hear about Grumpy Cat and Nyan Cat and others. But Lil Bub is clearly the star.

The film is making the Festival rounds now. It played New York's Tribeca Festival before coming to Seattle. Bridavsky is dreaming of a national release. There's a book too - "Lil Bub's Lil Book: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet" that will be out this fall.

Other SIFF news:
SIFF celebrates Washington-bred actor Kyle MacLachlan
SIFF features UW doctor who discovered breast cancer gene
Stars of 'Much Ado About Nothing' hit Seattle to open SIFF

Tom Tangney, KIRO Radio Host, Film & Media Critic
Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.
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By day, you can hear Tom on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, and by night, he sits in the dark, making snide comments about what he sees on the silver screen.

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