A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Cat Classics on Film: The Rabbi’s Cat (2011)

Cat Classics on Film

The Rabbi's Cat
Today we bring you our review of an excellent animated cat classic, The Rabbi’s Cat (originally titled Le chat du rabbin). This film is based on the 2007 graphic novel of the same title, by Joann Sfar. Before we get started, we would like you to note that, although this is an animated film, it does include some violent scenes and some not-so-subtle hints of sex, and it is in French with English subtitles, so it is not really suited for younger viewers. And just in case your eyes glazed over when you read “English subtitles,” I will add one more thing:

Cheeky talking cat who wants to convert to Judaism.

The plot

The Rabbi’s Cat is set in Algiers in the 1930s. You have probably guessed that the main characters are a rabbi (Rabbi Sfar) and his cat. The cat is a gray Sphynx who has no name other than “the rabbi’s cat.” There is also the rabbi’s daughter, Zlabya, whom the cat loves. Early on, the cat eats the family’s talking parrot, and he (the cat) begins to talk. Zlabya is delighted; her father is somewhat less delighted, especially when it turns out the cat can also read and begins reading things that the rabbi thinks are inappropriate for his daughter. So, the rabbi won’t allow the cat to be alone with Zlabya anymore. This separation causes heartache for both the cat and the daughter, and the cat determines that he must become a good Jewish cat so he will be allowed to be with his mistress again. He demands to know why he was never bar mitzvahed. And so the rabbi sets out to teach the cat about Judaism. By spending a lot of time together, the rabbi and the cat come to be quite close. The cat even helps the rabbi prepare for a French dictation test he must take and pass to keep his position.

This is not a simple film, and it includes several story lines, one of which is about the arrival of a Russian refugee who has fled his village after a pogrom. This man, who is also an artist, has heard of a mythical African Jewish city where everything is just wonderful. He, the rabbi, the rabbi’s cat, an Arab sheikh, the sheik’s donkey, and an eccentric Russian all set out to travel through Africa to find this city. Along the way, they have several adventures, and the rabbi’s mind is given a good stretch (something I think everyone needs from time to time). The Russian also meets a young African woman with whom he falls in love, and she joins the traveling party. Alas, the Russian finds that the mythical perfect city is not quite what he expected, and the cat, still trying to get his bar mitzvah, gets into some trouble with the locals.

Click here to see the trailer.

Our verdict

We loved this film, from the richly colored mosaic backgrounds behind the opening credits to the philosophical discussions between the rabbi and his talking cat. But don’t worry—these aren’t the sort of heavy discussions that just make your head hurt; they are instead fast-paced and witty. We found the discussions thought-provoking; however, if you’re put off by religious debates, this might not be the film for you. We enjoyed the changing relationship between the rabbi and the cat, and we were impressed by how quickly the rabbi accepts the fact that his cat can now talk back to him. (Admit it: you would be freaked out if your cat suddenly started speaking to you.)  Of course we love that the cat has his own ideas about … everything. As I said earlier, the story is not necessarily simple, but neither is it the sort of thing that you need Cliffs Notes to follow.

The Rabbi’s Cat has more-serious themes than you might expect from an animated film, but it is also often funny and is not a “downer” at all. We think it’s well worth a look.


Two Paws Up--A Great Movie!

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good movie; two paws is for a great movie. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the movie through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!


  1. Thanks for the review; I'd never heard of this before.

  2. thank you for featuring this! Do you believe even though I am Jewish I had never heard of this? Thank you! catchatwithcarenandcody

  3. This does sound good. I had not heard of it before.

  4. I can't believe I've never heard of this movie ... definitely got to get my paws ... err, hands on it!