Looking For Kitty is an interesting, witty and somewhat slow-moving film. I enjoyed the understated story up until the last 20 minutes, when I lost interest because I thought the film should have been over.
The story is straightforward. A sad-sack little league baseball coach, Abe Fiannico (David Krumholtz), hires Jack Stanton (Edward Burns), a down-on-his-luck private investigator, to find his missing wife, Kitty (Ari Meyers). Working together, they look for Kitty, who has apparently run off with a moderately successful rock singer named Ron Stewart (Max Baker) – not to be confused with the more famous Rod Stewart. Slowly, a friendship develops between Fiannico and Stanton, as they realize they have more in common than they first thought, and the two end up helping each other come to terms with lost relationships.
Writer, actor and director Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen, The Groomsmen) made this film in New York for only $200,000. Burns explains in the commentary track that making a film for “no money” means calling in favors to get actors to work for the SAG minimum – in other words, “for free”.
It’s a good thing Burns has connections, because Looking For Kitty would die a long, slow death without a solid cast. Of course, Burns himself plays one of the leads, and he’s quite familiar with this sort of character. David Krumholtz is also strong, and the two make an amusing pair. Other cast highlights include Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live) and Kevin Kash (The Groomsmen), who provide some comic energy, which works as counterpoint to Burns’ dry wit.
This film originally screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2004. So why is it only hitting DVD now, in 2006? Burns and his tiny crew treated Looking For Kitty like a play – screening it, seeing what worked and what didn’t, and then tweaked it for months before calling it complete. On the commentary, Burns talks about how his script was more like a blueprint, with many scenes being at least partially improvised. That’s always a neat experiment, but it probably also accounts for why they ended up scrapping 30 minutes from the original cut and shooting the same amount of replacement footage before calling this one done.
Regardless of how it was made, and how low its budget was, Looking For Kitty is worth a look. If you like it, you’ll want to check out Burns’ other projects, like The Brothers McMullen and She’s The One, which deal with similar themes and are stronger examples of his work.
So, how’s the DVD?
Looking For Kitty is presented on a single disc in 1.78:1 widescreen format. The transfer is just ok, with consistently dull colours and soft picture issues. Some scenes are a little better – more sharp and vibrant – and some scenes are little worse, with softer, grainy picture.
The menus are mildly animated, with music.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is narrow and quiet, but dialogue is always clear. I noticed sound levels dropping off a bit in a few of the outdoor scenes, but mostly this track does well enough with a very dialogue-heavy film.
English is the only audio option, and just English captions are available.
The DVD offers a reasonable amount of bonus content. We get an audio commentary, an alternate opening, and some trailers.
The audio commentary is by Edward Burns, who wrote, directed and starred in the film. Burns talks a lot about how to go about making movies on shoe-string budgets, with his biggest tip being to “go digital”. Burns and co. picked up a $3,000 digital video camera, and hit the streets of New York with no extras and a bare-bones crew to shoot Looking For Kitty, so I guess he knows what he’s talking about.
The alternate opening is an interesting extra, and not one I recall running into before. It runs about 11 minutes, and it’s definitely a different take on setting up the story. This alternate version establishes Abe first, and provides more back-story on Jack. I don’t mind opening on Abe, but the exposition on Jack is unnecessary, as we learn most of that information in more subtle ways throughout the film.
Finally, there’s a trailer gallery, including promos for Looking For Kitty and other ThinkFilm releases.
Looking For Kitty is certainly worth a look for Burns fans or people who like simple, character-driven films. The DVD presentation is about average, with nothing much to complain about. All in all, you’re probably best off renting this one before deciding to add it to your collection.
Special Features List
- Director’s audio commentary
- Alternate opening
- Trailer gallery