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In the new animated movie The Rabbi’s Cat (written by Joann Sfar and Sandrina Jardel and directed by Sfar and  Antoine Delesvaux) there’s, well, this cat, you see, and he belongs to, well, this Rabbi, and they live in Algeria in the Casbah before World War II.   And then the cat, the rabbi’s cat, okay?, well, he eats this parrot, see, which doesn’t really seem to upset anybody all that much, but when he does, he, well, he starts talking, and not just talking, but he’s able to speak in just about any language there is.  No, no, stick with me here.  So this rabbi, the one the cat belongs to?, he thinks the cat, now that he can talk and has, well, ideas (you know, like…carbon dating proves the world is millions of years old and not created six thousand years ago in six days and other things banned from textbooks in Texas?), the rabbi is afraid it will be a bad influence on his impressionable teenage daughter so the rabbi prevents the cat from seeing her.  So the cat, who loves his mistress, comes up with the idea of being bar mitzvahed, because then he’d be Jewish, you see, and couldn’t be a bad influence and he’d be able to hang out with the rabbi’s daughter.
Are you with me so far?  Too bad, because even though that sounds like what the story is going to be about, it’s not, since the idea of a bar mitzvahed cat, as promising an idea as that may sound, is soon forgotten and gives way to a travelogue about a Russian Jewish refugee who wants to find a mythical city of black African Jews (I am not making this up, you know).  And so through a series of rather odd plot turns and twists, a group of types join forces and take off for a jaunt across Africa.
The Rabbi’s Cat is lovely to look at with graceful animation of foreign cities, giraffes reaching for leaves with the grace of a ballerina, pink elephants (no, this is not Dumbo and no one was drunk—just, your everyday pink elephant), and a poor donkey who spends most of his time trying to keep up with a car he is tied to (again, you had to be there).
There’s also a lot of talk about religion and which one is the best with the movie coming squarely done on the side of the most tolerant of the characters.  The story itself is a bit rag tag and more than a bit all over the place and it doesn’t really end, but just sort of stops.  I can’t say it was the most exciting animated film I’ve ever seen (it fact, it’s a little too leisurely for my taste), but it’s not chopped liver either.   

So tell me what you think.

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