Lil Bub is a tiny tabby with deformed legs, extra toes, no teeth, buggy eyes, an overbite, and a perpetually protruding tongue. She is also an internet sensation. One look at Lil Bub, who, according to her owner, is just visiting from another planet, and your heart will simply melt. She drools, she snuffle-purrs almost constantly, she eats in a far from ladylike manner, and she is absolutely, utterly adorable.
Though only 65 minutes long, this quirky documentary is a fascinating blend of silliness and reality, and goes a long way to explain why cats and cat memes have taken the internet by storm. Basically if you think your cat is doing something adorable and you post it online, there are thousands of cat people who will agree. Depending on the uniqueness and the level of cuteness, your video can go viral within a matter of days or weeks, and the next thing you know, you’re raking in royalties and ad revenue. BOOM! Instant celebrity! Only not. You’re still just a regular person with a regular cat and regular problems – you’ve just got this cool internet fame thing in your back pocket.
Lil Bub is a particularly wrenching illustration of this fact. As insanely adorable as she is, Lil Bub is plagued with medical problems, physical limitations, and carefully managed pain. The same little cutie who brings happiness to an ever-growing number of fans also faces a shortened life span and a mountain of challenges. (Thankfully, Bub’s condition is a true accident: she was not intentionally bred to have any of the traits she wound up with.) It’s something Lil Bub’s owner lives with on a daily basis, and no amount of t-shirt sales can compensate for the imminent loss of his furry BFF. He handles it well, but their situation is strangely illustrative of meme and viral video phenomena – it’s something that takes on a life of its own, offering fleeting joy against a backdrop of reality.
The movie also shows Bub meeting fellow web stars (including Grumpy Cat!) and visiting the Internet Cat Video Festival (yes, that’s totally a thing!), giving us a broader understanding of the whole cat video phenomenon, its fans, and its creators. We meet some sad and lonely folks along the way, but Lil Bub, in her infinite mellowness, never judges. Oh, she tries to rip the face off of an overly friendly dog, but she never says a bad word about him. In the end, that may be why so many people turn to the internet and to animals for entertainment and comfort: they’re always reliable and they don’t judge.