The Cat Came Back (Cordell Baker, 1988, Canada)

The Cat Came Back is a 1988 short animation by two-time Academy Award-nominated Canadian animator Cordell Barker. The film is based on the 1893 comic song by Harry S. Miller - "The Cat Came Back." The film opens with Mr. Johnson, our protagonist, playing his tuba. A knock at the door leads him to confront a small cat at his doorstep. At first, Mr. Johnson tries to entertain the little yellow cat, but upon getting no response, he puts the cat back on his doorstep. The cat then continues to keep trying to enter Mr. Johnson's home.

Mr. Johnson goes as far as to bring the cat to the forest and leave him there, but the cat is too fast for Mr. Johnson. "The cat came back the next day," the tune plays. Now Mr. Johnson brings the cat out to the sea and attempts to drown the cat, but Mr. Johnson ends up almost drowning himself. Cordell Baker has a wild and frenetic style of animation that suits the material quite well. The edges of his characters seem to vibrate in a way that suggests constant movement. This is made very clear when Mr. Johnson tries to take the cat away via a pump trolley but ends up in a cave with bats and rats.

Mr. Johnson's attempts become gradually more insane until he tries to blow up the cat, but in the process ends up blowing up himself. Johnson tries to kill the cat from beyond the grave, but the cat's nine lives haunt him into eternity. The Cat Came Back was released in theaters with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - a fitting programming decision. It was nominated for best animated short at the Academy Awards but lost to a Pixar film. Nevertheless, it is a fun and mischievous film.



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