A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cats is an animated adventure about a young kitten who runs away from home in search of a mythical land, and contains a surprising amount of violence and peril. The mythical land, called "Peachtopia," can be read as an allegory of heaven. There is mention of the death of a mother, and there are numerous occasions when characters find themselves in danger. The level of violence is unusually high for this kind of movie, with characters kicked and punched, while death is often alluded to. Alcohol is also prevalent, with many scenes taking place in a bar. While there is no strong language, frequent references are made to a character being overweight, with him referred to as "fatty" and constantly getting stuck. Overall, the story is about growing up, accepting the world, and finding happiness within yourself. The movie is also known as Cats and Peachtopia in some territories.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In CATS, young kitten Cape (voiced by Nicole Tompkins) is bored of his cushy life in a city apartment and longs to explore the world in search of his mother and a mythical land called Peachtopia. His father, Blanket (Dermot Mulroney), however, prefers the luxury of their day-to-day life. But, when Cape runs away, Blanket -- with the help of a female macaw -- must venture out into the city to find him, running into old friends and new enemies along the way. Captured by a terrifying sculptor, who uses real-life animals as molds, Cape must join forces with his family and new friends to save themselves and the other trapped animals from a fate worse than death, all the while coming to terms with the reality of the Peachtopia myth.
Is it any good?
Cats lacks the craftsmanship of its Pixar and DreamWorks counterparts, but it's not without merits. The animation is bright and colorful, the cityscapes and rural landscapes are rendered beautifully -- if without much panache in the detail -- and the characters are emotive with the required cuteness. The plot follows the familiar story of a curious child -- or kitten in this case -- in search of something that ends up existing inside themselves. It also, in good-old Disney style, throws in the death of a parent to really get those tears rolling.
Considering that the movie skews toward a young audience -- with few references or additional levels to appeal to older viewers -- it feels unnecessarily dark in its frequent violence and references to death. It does, however, maintain a level of excitement and hits all the emotional notes to keep viewers fully engaged in what is a fairly generic story told well, but one that lacks the final flourish to make it unique.
Talk to your kids about ...
There are several references to Blanket's weight. Did this seem mean? How do you think Blanket felt about being called "fat" and "fatty?" Why does language matter?
What does Cape learn from his father? What kind of things have you learned from your parents or guardians?
- In theaters: January 24, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: January 26, 2020
- Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Nicole Tompkins, Brittany Curran
- Director: Gary Wang
- Studio: Viva Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Courage, Curiosity
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: peril, some thematic elements and rude humor
- Last updated: November 10, 2020
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