Looking for Kitty is a low budget flick about two men forming an unlikely friendship as they deal with losing the women they loved… in other words, the same exact movie Ed Burns has been making for the past ten years, only worse. Seriously, the day Burns makes a movie that doesn’t take place in New York, have too many scenes of questionable male bonding, and feature unattainable women is the day I die of shock, or the day he makes a movie that is actually as good as his first two.
In Looking for Kitty Burns plays depressed private detective Jack Stanton, who can’t seem to get over the death of his wife. His exasperated boss tosses him a charity case to help baseball coach, Abe Fiannico (David Krumholtz), find his missing wife Kitty, who left him without explanation and then turned up in the society pages on the arm of an up and coming rock star.
Fiannico pays Stanton extra to allow him to tag along as they try to track Kitty with only the newspaper photo to guide them, and they encounter an array of wacky characters like the drunken Julie (Rachel Dratch) and the snobbish Guy “Cougar” Bourne (Chris Parnell overacting so much he makes this season’s SNL actually seem funny). The pair make an unlikely duo with the closed off Stanton refusing to go inside restaurants or socialize on more than a basic level, and the sheltered Fiannico never having tried coffee or ethnic foods. But as they spend more time together, they begin to (surprise, surprise) bond as Stanton teaches Fiannico about the finer points of New York City and Fiannico encourages Stanton to open up.
Overall, the premise isn’t horrible, but the story never goes anywhere and you have the feeling that with all the budget cutbacks, Burns decided not to pay himself to write a script. While the performances are decent, David Krumholtz is just not believable as a suburban Italian and the only thing that isn’t boring about watching him is debating whether his bushy mustache is real. Burns handles his bitter New Yorker role well, but the random cuts to him crying about his wife or eating all alone only give the semblance of depth without actually achieving it. The film does have a few shining moments, with interesting tidbits about Burn’s beloved New York City mixed in with some rare moments of quality character drama, but ultimately it feels like something Burns might have made in college rather than his fourth feature film. As the film drags on, you begin to envy Kitty for running away.
The movie’s budget was just over two hundred thousand dollars and it shows, with fuzzy pictures, unimpressive sound quality, and that horrible banjo strumming that always seems to be on the soundtrack of indie films. On the DVD, Burns boasts about the various ways he was able to cut corners to keep the budget low, but he might have done better to cut out the whole movie and really save some money.
The disc is as bargain basement as the film, offering subtitles only in English and only an English Dolby Audio track. Then again, I doubt the studio anticipated anyone rushing to buy this movie for its special features, and I am grateful that they didn’t force me to sit through any more of the movie than I had to. There was an alternate beginning, which I ended up liking more than that one that Burns used, but that didn’t surprise me since he didn’t really bring his A-game on this one.
I was very eager to hear how Burns was going to explain this disappointment, or at least find out if I was missing something, but the commentary winds up being Burns bragging about how easy it is to make a low-budget (read bad) movie. Burns’ secret? No lighting, no costume designer, no permits to film, no money to pay the actors, no script, no plot, no point… okay he didn’t say those last three but we’re all thinking it.