A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ghost Cat is a made-for-TV movie from 2004 that stars a pre-Juno Ellen Page. As ghost stories go, the "scares" in this one are pretty tame, as the titular feline generally doesn't do much more than knock things over, but the cat does cause an automobile accident by scratching the bad guys in their faces. A man tries to asphyxiate all the animals in an animal shelter. Aside from this, the biggest concern for younger viewers involves scenes with death or dying, as a beloved elderly character is shown dying on her loveseat, and younger characters discuss the recent passings of their parents.
What's the story?
Natalie (Ellen Page) is moving to Ringwood, a small town forty miles from their Manhattan home so her father (Michael Ontkean) can work on his next book debunking the paranormal in history, and Natalie will have some time and space to recover from the loss of her mother. While checking out their new home, they meet the previous owners, the kind Mrs. Ashboro, her greedy nephew Boyd, and a sweet cat named Margaret. But when Mrs. Ashboro and Margaret pass away within weeks of each other, strange things begin to happen. Margaret is a ghost, appearing so, at first, only Natalie can see her, but appearing at opportune times to help prevent Boyd and a greedy developer from stealing the $50,000 bequeathed to an animal shelter by Mrs. Ashboro. As Boyd and the developer scheme to remove the animal shelter so they can complete the development of a cookie-cutter subdivision, it's up to Natalie, with the help of her new boyfriend Shawn, his little brother Pearson, and, of course, Margaret, to save the shelter and keep Mrs. Ashboro's money in the right hands.
Is it any good?
GHOST CAT is an engaging, if formulaic, ghost story. The ghostly "scares" -- such as they are -- are relatively tame compared to other ghost stories. If there is anything that would be too intense for younger viewers, it's not the appearance of Margaret the ghost cat knocking over cat food, but rather, scenes where characters die, or kids discuss the deaths of their parents. Such willingness to discuss these matters makes this film a bit heavier than most ghost stories, especially as the movie also is unafraid to discuss greed, overdevelopment, and the loss of community at the hands of those who wish to turn farmlands into cookie-cutter subdivisions.
Also, this movie shows a pre-Juno Ellen Page turning in a very good performance, offering a hint at the talent she would display in later movies. Overall, while somewhat predictable, Ghost Cat is a safe bet for cat lovers or kids who are too sensitive for scary movies.
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